Is the city’s budget doctor in?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hearing the cold, hard facts is rarely good or pleasant. Most of us would much prefer to work through life oblivious to the dangerous truth all around us.

Unfortunately, that Pollyanna outlook has been the norm for the last few years in the City of Natchez as the city’s elected representatives have turned a blind eye to the need for careful financial management.

Namely, the city has been spending more money than it has been receiving. That’s a recipe for an ever-growing addiction to debt.

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Beyond that, however, it leads to the proverbial “We’re out of money and we’re not really sure why” reaction at the end of the fiscal year.

Most agree the city’s finances are sick. But the patient’s issues aren’t terminal. The city’s finances can be saved.

And right on cue Tuesday, the finance doctor, Aldermen Dan Dillard, jumped into action.

Dillard has wisely been fussing about city spending for months. We hope his bringing the issue up, along with the outcry of taxpayers who have had to tighten their own belts over the last two years, is starting to pay off.

The leaders must start paying more care to the month-to-month expenses of operating a city.

Dillard and four other aldermen (one was absent) voted to end unscheduled transfers of funds from one city account into another.

Getting a handle on where the spending is going is a great place to start.

“If we can get our financial house in order, then we can do these things that we need to do and want to do,” Dillard said at Tuesday’s board of aldermen meeting.

We couldn’t agree more, and Dillard’s diagnosis of the problem is spot-on. Now we just have to work on taking the unpleasant medicine of figuring out when and where spending can be cut.