City and county continue to review budgets

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 14, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; The city and county, both facing tough financial times, met Wednesday to review preliminary budget figures for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

Adams County supervisors found, in a work session held Wednesday morning, that every department has asked for an increase in its budget for the 2003-2004 fiscal year.

The county, like the city, is just starting its budget process for the next fiscal year, and figures almost always change prior the Sept. 15 budget adoption deadline.

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&uot;Many times, they request what they requested last year,&uot; County Administrator Charlie Brown told supervisors. &uot;They ask for what they hope they can get.&uot;

&uot;If there’s no explanation, I say cut it,&uot; said supervisors Vice President Darryl Grennell.

&uot;They’ve not been fair in their requests,&uot; said Supervisor Virginia Salmon.

Grennell asked Brown to review the high points of each department’s budget &045; following up, if necessary, with department heads to get the rationale for the increases.

Supervisors President Lynwood Easterling said he would rather go ahead and meet with each department director in the first place.

&uot;Everyone’s an increase,&uot; Easterling said, looking at figures provided by Brown. &uot;You better believe I want to talk to them.&uot;

On Wednesday afternoon, city officials continued the budget work sessions they started Tuesday, reviewing with directors each department’s proposed budget.

With each department head, aldermen’s warning has been the same &045; &uot;the chances of us asking you to cut deep is a reality,&uot; as Alderman and Mayor Pro Tem David Massey told City Engineer David Gardner.

Gardner said he has already cut plenty deep into his budget. Now that the city is almost caught up on its surveying work, Gardner has already laid off one person from his surveying crew, for example.

Gardner is also not budgeting any new vehicles for the next fiscal year.

In the Planning Department, City Planner Bob Jackson is requesting a new fax and computer hard drive, the latter of which doesn’t work.

He would like Geographical Information Systems software but agreed to hold off until city officials can determine the status of a GIS program the city and county have teamed up to create.

One item under Planning, however, has been cut out entirely &045; contract services, under which fees for a redistricting consultant were included this year.

Recreation Director Ralph Tedder told aldermen during his meeting that his department is having to hold off on paying some of its bills, carrying them over to the next month.

&uot;And it looks like we’ll have to carry over $10,000 of those until next (fiscal) year,&uot; Tedder said.

The reason for the budget crunch is due to heavy rains early in the year and, most recently, damage done to Duncan Park’s golf course by herbicide.

The greens are once again green, Tedder said, &uot;and if golfers come back, we’ll be back in the ball game.&uot;

Earlier this summer, Tedder told aldermen of cuts he was already having to make in order to make ends meet, including elimination of some day camp and playground programs, as well as five maintenance positions.