Why start budgeting so late?

Published 12:22 am Friday, September 8, 2017

The illogical nature the City of Natchez uses at budget season is utterly baffling.

In what may be among the quirkiest of habits, the city on Thursday held a public hearing to allow for public comment on the upcoming city budget, but with one key absence — the actual proposed budget.

That’s right, citizens were asked to speak their minds about a document that could not be reviewed because it’s not really put together yet.

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It’s not the first time the city has done this, either.

But the move seems to circumvent the very spirit of the law the city purports to be following.

The reason state law requires public hearings is to allow legitimate comment on the plan for spending state money. But that’s impossible if the plan doesn’t exist in a form that can be shared and provided in enough time to study.

We long have asked, nay begged, city leaders to start the budgeting process early enough to truly involve citizen feedback. Yet, year in and year out, the city finds itself at the 11th hour approving a budget, just ahead of the state-mandated deadline. Then again, only a year or so ago, the city failed to meet that deadline.

This is not an unexpected emergency. The need to create a budget did not just pop up. We’ve known it was needed; yet we wind up at the last minute finalizing things.

We hope and pray enough citizens will take their role as watchdogs over the city more seriously and demand this horrible practice be ended.

Until that happens, those in city power will continue to do what they want, when they want it.