City budget doesn’t seem to add up

Published 12:11 am Thursday, June 12, 2014

The City of Natchez faces more than a few problems. It’s roads are in rough shape, the city’s population has declined and now city leaders are scratching their heads wondering how on earth the city wound up being $1.5 million in deficit (so far) this fiscal year.

City Clerk Donnie Holloway says it’s simple — the city has hired too many new employees over the last year.

Holloway pointed to an increase of both the number of city employees as well as the overall payroll expenditures being approximately $400,000 over last year’s amount.

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That should come as no surprise to most who have watched as the city has hired a new IT director, two new accountants to help at the city clerk’s office and a city grant writer.

Mayor Butch Brown said at Tuesday’s board of aldermen meeting that he didn’t believe the numbers and wanted to check them himself.

Someone needs to check them and explain to city taxpayers why this has been allowed to happen.

The mayor has operated for a number of months blaming the city clerk’s office for not having good financial data on which to make decisions. That led to the hiring of the two accountants, in an attempt to sort out the financial mess.

The city needs to immediately freeze all hiring and then quickly implement a plan to cut expenses by more than the amount of the deficit.

To not do so and to simply borrow money for operating costs — as some have suggested — is fiscally irresponsible.

Is anyone ready to talk about how consolidating city and county government could save taxpayers money? It sure seems to be a good time to us.