Biloxi expecting rough going for 2012 budget year

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi expects to end fiscal year 2012 with a fund balance that's about a third of what it started off with.

The administration told the city council on Tuesday it's going to be rough this year and probably the next year too.

"We can't bet on the upside," said City Chief Administrator David Staehling. "Hopefully revenues will increase but, we can't depend on that. We have to budget for the down side. If things don't improve and they don't get better, we have to make sure we can keep the city solid."

Biloxi has $9 million in its beginning fund balance to start the year. The city wants to withdraw $1 million in gaming reserves to help make ends meet.

That's necessary in part because the city is looking to spend about $4.6 million more than it expects to receive in revenues in 2012. In addition Biloxi plans to spend about $2.1 million for capital projects.

"We end up at the bottom line projected ending fund balance $3.2 million. Remember half of that's in the form of receivable. That's about as low as you can go. You're just going to have to be very very cautious," Staehling said.

Biloxi has more than 600 employees. Officials said 39 positions are open. Although the money for those salaries is included in the proposed budget, the administration is suggesting a hiring freeze, as well as, six day furloughs again for all workers.

"To continue a tight budget like we are you've got to continue with some constraints that we don't like but, we're going to have to continue some of it. Of which ones that we have to continue. That will be worked out as we go through the negotiations," Biloxi Council President Clark Griffith said.

Biloxi City Council members will hold another budget workshop Tuesday at 9 a.m. That's when they will get to hear from all the department heads.

Despite the hardships, officials said, no tax increases are planned. They also said because Biloxi has little debt, the city has a good bond rating.

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