Long Beach budget without major cuts, furloughs

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - When planning a budget in a bad economy, it's rare to hear city officials say this:

"I'm excited," exclaimed Carolyn Anderson of the Long Beach Board of Aldermen.

Long Beach city officials have presented their 2012 fiscal budget worth more than $9 million.  Officials say thanks to careful planning and conservative spending in the years since Hurricane Katrina, their city is in the black.

"They've managed to live within their means, and only spend what they bring in. And I think that's a big accomplishment," said Long Beach Comptroller Kini Gonsoulin.

Unlike many of the larger cities in the area, with even larger budgets, Long Beach employees won't have to be furloughed. That's a point of pride for officials who say their secret to keeping a balanced budget is multi-tasking.

"We've not hired additional spots where we might have put personnel on, and our staff have stepped up and filled the slack," said Anderson.

Officials say they also trimmed out positions that have been vacant for several years, and that department heads have worked hard to keep money tight.

However, there is one thing that officials say could improve.

"Major concerns at this point in time are getting more revenue into our city," explained Gary Ponthieux of the Long Beach Board Aldermen.

Ponthieux went on to explain that the city is looking to hire an economic developer who will focus on selling what the city has to offer to potential investors.

The Long Beach Mayor agrees.

"We feel like it would be nice to have someone looking out for us, someone to locate to our city. It's more than just making a call. It's about someone who can show who you are, what you are and what you can provide in the city," said Mayor Billy Skellie.

According to officials more revenue could allow for better solutions to various problems around the city.  Some problems aldermen would like to see addressed are drainage issues and roads in need of paving.

The mayor says more revenue and sales taxes would lead to a bigger budget that could provide long term fixes to these problems as they continue to improve the city.

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