Still no decision on trimming Biloxi's budget - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Still no decision on trimming Biloxi's budget

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

By Doug Walker – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Tuesday saw another lengthy budget discussion among Biloxi city leaders.

Mayor A.J. Holloway summed it up by saying, "I don't see a lot accomplished here this morning for certain, just a lot of talk and no action."

And there was a lot of talk, and not just from council members.  One city employee, Eric Nolan, was actually in favor of unpaid leave.   

"If cost cutting measures are considered, we would like to recommend the furlough option first," Nolan said.  "This is a quantitative option that would yield immediate results to the city's bottom line.  This option is also the easiest to reverse in the event revenues rebound." 

More pleas were heard to not reduce pay and benefits from city employee  Michelle Crowley.

"The Biloxi Firefighters Association again asks you to stop reductions in pay and benefits," Crowley said.  "In the long run, we are hurting the city for many years to come." 

A power point presentation again showed the city's bank account is hurting.  But the dire numbers only led to more discussion.  The bottom line in the Biloxi city budget: 70 percent of the costs are made up by employee benefits and salaries. According to the mayor, that's where cuts have to be made. 

"We have rich benefits that we are going to have to cut," Holloway said.  "We're going to have to cut benefits and some of them are not big ticket items, but they add up." 

One of those rich benefits is city provided health care. It's doesn't cost city employees a dime, even for family coverage. Ward 4 Councilman Clark Griffith said that has to change.  

"Health care continues to go up and at some point we're going to have to have the employees pay a portion of their health care," Griffith said.  "Now the question is when and how much. And that's the one we need to talk about." 

For example, on the issue of health care, if city employees were to pay $150 a month for family coverage, while still paying nothing for themselves, the city would save close to $2 million a year. 

The council adjourned without setting a date for a vote on the budget issues.

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