Mayor focuses on finances in Gulfport's State of the City Address - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Mayor focuses on finances in Gulfport's State of the City Address

By Krystal Allan – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The state of Gulfport's economy dominated the first half of Mayor George Schloegel's State of the City speech Tuesday night. Schloegel said the city's $9 million deficit has been slashed in half, but more has to be cut. He's looking to start with employee benefit packages.

"You need to know that 80 percent of the operating of the city goes to salary and benefits. So if you go to trim, you have to look at that package," Mayor Schloegel said. "Over the years, our employee benefit package, not the base salary, the package may have grown excessive."

The mayor isn't looking to cut base salaries. Instead, he said he wants to trim paid vacation and holidays, and have employees take one unpaid vacation day each quarter. In addition, employees who live outside the city limits would not longer be allowed to take city vehicles home. 

Schloegel also pointed to jobs the city has already cut and those not likely to be filled.

"Permanently eliminating the 60 positions that are gone by attrition and not filling the 30 positions currently open will save the city $4.5 million each year," Schloegel said.

The mayor addressed ways to cut costs among the 16 community centers.  He also formally announced plans to temporarily close Gulfport Fire Station number 4 on East Railroad.

"The plan is to relocate the nine firefighters that work there and the trucks that are there to the other stations."

In moving the city forward, the mayor thanked those who've cleaned up Katrina-damaged properties, but issued a strong warning to those who have not.

"Tonight, let's be real clear.  For the remainder of this term, we will use the strong arm of local government to shake apathy of those who own dilapidated and derelict properties in our city."

He said those with derelict properties will receive one final notice through their water bill. An environmental prosecutor will then prosecute them as part of the city's new environmental court.         

As for the city's recovery and rebirth, Mayor Schloegel pointed to the return of events like the Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo. He also touched on the old Veterans Administration (VA) property and plans for future development.

Click here to read the mayor's speech in its entirety. 

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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