City can spend less from general fund

Published 12:06 am Thursday, January 15, 2015

Kudos goes to Natchez city alderwoman Sarah Smith for seeing the obvious in the city’s latest audit, despite the smokescreen in the room.

The city’s much-delayed audit showed the general fund had a nearly $600,000 deficit.

Mayor Butch Brown suggests the solution is to simply bring more money into the fund — the only way to generally get more money in government is to increase tax revenue.

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Smith, however, countered that suggestion with one of her own: the city could simply spend less from the general fund.

What a novel idea!

Thankfully, Smith and other aldermen have become wise to the abyss of information at the city clerk’s office and began asking questions about city finances a couple of years ago. When few definitive answers could be nailed down, aldermen started restricting funds to prevent the city from simply using money willy-nilly.

The seeming result has been better segregation of funds from one city fund to the other, but it’s also caused the city’s general fund to be effectively upside down.

A general fund deficit in county government five years ago led to a drop in Adams County’s bond rating.

It would seem likely the same could be said for the city soon as well.

Fortunately, it would appear the aldermen have things at least slightly back on course with a decision to change the city clerk’s position to an appointed one in the next election cycle and the hiring of a Natchez accounting firm to help reconcile the city’s books.

The changes cannot come a moment too soon.