Addict is headed for rock bottom

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 30, 2009

The City of Natchez is addicted — addicted to spending money it doesn’t have.

Like a person addicted to a controlled substance, the city’s administration is struggling to break the habit.

Just as the administration sought an additional $500,000 loan to help get it through the end of the fiscal year, Natchez alderman seemed to take a step in the right direction Tuesday by saying “no.” The move prompted the mayor to ask aldermen if their plan is to allow the city’s government to shut down.

Email newsletter signup

If that eventually happens, it would be the equivalent of an addict hitting rock bottom.

Unfortunately, aldermen stopped short of taking action to truly eliminate the problems.

While stopping the borrowing is a necessary first step in the city’s financial rehabilitation program, a budget-cutting plan is critically needed.

It’s great to sit back and wish and hope the economy picks up and tax revenues bounce back — and they might. But it’s a foolish plan for those entrusted as stewards of public money.

Several savings opportunities have been identified by aldermen — from privatizing grass cutting to stopping employees from driving city vehicles home to eliminating entire departments.

But to date, little, if anything, has been done.

The city’s elected officials could gain extensive public support by agreeing to take a $10,000 a year pay cut until further notice. While perhaps considered “minor” in the grand scheme of things, the move would save approximately $13,000 over the two months and every drop of savings counts.

Should Natchez residents continue to pay for top-dollar leadership when they’re getting lots of talk and little action?

We think the answer is clear.

Natchez needs to hit the reset button and get expenses in line with our revenues fast before rock bottom arrives.