Waveland budget stills needs trimming

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - By Al Showers – bio | email

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - It's a depressing sight city leaders blame for their budget woes. Vacant lots that were full of life before Katrina came along.

"The problem with the budget and the lack of revenue steams mainly from the lack of population. I hate to use the oil spill as an example, but Waveland was poised this summer with our beautiful beaches and our brand new pier to attract people from all over who would come and see our little city and some would decide to move here we lost this summer so that was a hard hit," said Lili Stahler, Waveland Ward 1.

Stahler says she and other Aldermen just couldn't, in good conscious, support a 10 percent tax hike for Waveland residents even though the city hasn't raised taxes in 15 years.

Stahler said, "I didn't feel that the time was appropriate for a millage increase. So many of our citizens had lost everything in Katrina and spent their time and energy and money building back and have selected to live here, so I don't think that they should be burdened with extra taxes."

Nor could she support pay-cuts for city workers.

"An eight percent decrease in all employees pay, I didn't think that was appropriate," Stahler said. "I think it's far better to reduce the work force to a number more fitting with the size city we are now."

There will likely be a trade off though. The latest budget proposal calls for increasing permit fees on home construction projects.

Raising utility fees, eliminating city jobs through attrition and raising adoption fees at the Waveland Animal Shelter, as well as cutting expenses where they can.

Waveland's board of alderman passed the city's budget Wednesday night. Mayor Tommy Longo presented his seventh budget proposal to the alderman asking, among other things, that the utility bill costs increase and some city salaries decrease.

There was a shortfall in the budget for more than $600,000. The board of alderman asked the department heads to go back and cut more money from all the departments to make up that shortfall.

"The city that was the hardest hit, we're having to totally rebuild everything from scratch," Longo said. "We're trying to do that on 2003 revenues with already reduced staff. There's not a lot of fat you can cut, so it's really a gut wrenching situation."

Mayor Longo also said the city is raising utility costs and considering raising commercial rates.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday, September 21.

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