Will aldermen use tax increase for what is intended?

Published 12:17 am Sunday, September 3, 2017

Clearly, for the risks they take on the job, Natchez police and fire workers are underpaid.

We’ve long said that city aldermen should be ashamed for spending money on their own salaries, travel and other expenses when police officers and firefighters often have to hold second or even third jobs to support their families.

We applaud newly appointed police chief Walter Armstrong for making a forceful and big deal out of the need to correct the salaries.

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They need to be increased.

But rather than simply immediately raising taxes, we urge aldermen to look for ways to save some of the money needed to fund the raises.

The city supposedly engaged a consultant to consider how consolidating city and county resources might save taxpayers money. Has that been completed?

Given that aldermen seem shocked at how low the entry-level pay is for city police and fire, we doubt aldermen have really turned over every rock looking for a way to pay for the raises.

Their immediate decision to simply raise taxes implies that no fat remains in the city’s budget. That’s difficult to believe.

As further evidence that that’s not the case, the city is hiring a recreation manager presumably to handle city departments that didn’t get along with the YMCA, which was under contract to manage the city’s recreation program.

We support the police and fire in their quest for better, and much-deserved, pay, but we have doubts about the city’s ability to raise taxes and not let the new revenue leak into other city budgets.