Alderman proposes city maintenance funding alternative

Published 12:04 am Monday, September 16, 2013

NATCHEZ — The Natchez alderman in charge of public properties said he would like to see the maintenance money given to all city departments consolidated into one budget.

Currently, the various city departments currently each have maintenance budgets. Ward 6 Alderman Dan Dillard said he feels that if maintenance funds are unneeded, some department heads may be spending the money for other needs.

The city recently decided to consolidate all of its information technology needs into one budget under the direction of IT Director Ed Bowser. The consolidation is an effort to keep track of all of the city’s IT expenditures.

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Dillard thinks a similar tab should be kept on maintenance expenditures.

“My concern is as a department head, if they’re going through their budget, if they don’t expend (the money) for maintenance and repairs, they’ll just spend it for operating costs,” he said.

Dillard said that each city department should still have money in their budget for everyday maintenance, such as light bulbs or air filters. He said, however, big-tickets items, such as roof or air-conditioning repairs should be budgeted through public properties.

Dillard said he would also like to see the execution of such repairs overseen by the city’s administration.

“If the fire department needs a new roof, that should be the administration’s responsibility,” he said. “I just don’t see the fire chief having the responsibility of chasing down a roofer and finding out what needs to be done,”

Mayor Butch Brown said he is likes the idea of consolidating the maintenance budgets into the public properties fund. Brown said, however, he wants to see the departments have money and the freedom for regular maintenance items. Taking that away, he said, would mean the department heads would not be able to immediately address maintenance issues.

“I want them to have a budget for equipment and maintenance, so if they need to replace hoses at the fire department or buy a set of tires for a car or work on a jail door, (they don’t have to go through the city’s administration),” Brown said.

The consolidation of the maintenance budgets will likely not happen for the upcoming 2013-2014 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, Brown said. The city, he said, will revisit the idea again next year.