Leadership on budget needed now

Published 12:38 am Sunday, August 28, 2016

Years of head scratching, blaming the accountants and ultimately borrowing money to make ends meet is finally catching up to the City of Natchez.

Natchez leaders are grappling with yet another budget deficit. The current budget plan for fiscal year 2016-2017, which begins Oct. 1, has an approximately $750,000 deficit in the city’s general fund.

If the city cannot quickly resolve the matter, the overspending will certainly cause the city’s financial credibility with bondholders and ratings agencies to decline.

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The budget is only part of the problem. Auditors reported the city in 2014-2015 overspent its budget by approximately $1 million.

The city clerk’s office believes the city is on track to overspend by another $1 million in the current fiscal year.

The overspending in the city must end.

Natchez already pays its police and fire workers low wages, yet the city is now faced with the possibility that it may need to furlough workers, reduce staff or reduce wages, as one city alderman suggested last week.

We appreciate that the city leaders are finally taking the city’s budget problems seriously. The challenge at the moment is the city’s leadership is under the gun to get a workable budget finished and approved by Sept. 15.

We hope they burn the midnight oil as much as necessary to get the financial plan in order. This is when we need their leadership most.