Stance needs to be taken on budget

Published 12:25 am Thursday, October 9, 2014

Members of the Natchez Board of Aldermen deserve some praise for questioning things that just didn’t make sense.

For years and years, aldermen have passed complicated budgets, agreed to refinance large bonds through complex interest-rate swaps and generally just gone with the financial flow.

Finally, this year, aldermen appear to be truly making an effort to understand the city’s budgets. In doing so, aldermen have questioned lots of line items in the budget that need explanation.

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Unfortunately, their “goal-line stance,” as Alderman Dan Dillard dubbed the latest standoff with the administration, is coming with no time left on the clock.

If the city doesn’t get a budget passed next week, the city’s own payroll cannot legally be processed, effectively meaning city government would be shut down.

The challenges in budgeting are two-fold. Aldermen say the proposed budget figures that come from the city clerk’s office keep changing without clear explanation.

Among those recent changes apparently were adjustments in salaries that aldermen say they had not approved. Further questioning showed Mayor Butch Brown had promised a few select employees they would receive pay raises either based on their job performance or time in their position.

Such promises seem patently unfair to all other city employees who haven’t been offered similar treatment.

Aldermen would be wise to use common sense and adopt a city budget that limits departmental spending to exactly what was spent in fiscal year 2014 or less.