City spending needs to be reined in

Published 12:44 am Sunday, June 4, 2017

Natchez aldermen seem to regularly hit their thumbs with a hammer; then stare blankly at the throbbing, black and blue digits, puzzled at what happened.

That scenario seems to continue happening with regard to spending practices when the city makes a decision to change something midstream, start spending more than was budgeted. A year later, they wake up scratching their collective head wondering why they’re broke.

The process has been repeated over and over again when the city leaders approve the payment of mostly unbudgeted matching funds that are required for some form of “free money” someone has applied for and found through any myriad of state and federal grant sources.

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In the latest round of sad, silliness, aldermen approved — with only Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis voting against — to allow more than a dozen public works employees to receive unbudgeted raises.

The source of the funds — for this year — will be a grant obtained last year. Where the money will come from starting Oct. 1 when a new fiscal year begins is anyone’s guess. We do not begrudge the city’s public works director for pushing for pay raises. We believe him when he suggests his crews are underpaid and he struggles to recruit and retain good employees.

What is frustrating, however, is the spending today with no clue how things will be paid for tomorrow. That, coupled with Arceneaux-Mathis’ contention at the meeting that a pay rate could never be cut once set is a recipe for fiscal trouble.

We urge, nay plead, city aldermen to stop spending money that isn’t in the city’s approved budget unless the need is caused by an emergency.

Until unplanned spending is reined in, the city will continue to struggle financially and that cannot be allowed to continue.