GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport Mayor George Schloegel held a news conference with city leaders Monday to discuss what he is calling a dark and uncertain financial future for the city.
In his official veto letter, the mayor explained that he's concerned about the council's decision to use one-time money to cover continuing expenses.
"Several positive economic development opportunities are on the horizon for Gulfport, but until those developments are actually in operation, I feel it is unwise to spend money that is not in hand," Mayor Schloegel wrote.
Last week, council members approved an amended version of the mayor's proposed budget for 2012-2013. They added money to keep law enforcement, fire fighters and other employees from losing their jobs. Council President Ricky Dombrowski said those expenses would be paid for by money the mayor's budget didn't even take into account.
"In fairness to the mayor, his budget did not have a million dollars worth of income that came from eminent domain of the property on I-10 and Canal Road. And ours includes the $1 million from that eminent domain process," Dombrowski said. "The bottom line: the ending budget of our cash reserves is even higher than the proposed budget by the mayor."
Below is the full text of the mayor's veto letter:
This letter is official notice that under Miss. Code Ann. § 21-8-17(2) (Supp. 2010) as Mayor, I hereby veto the City Council's adoption of Gulfport's budget for 2012-2013 as taken by vote on September 11, 2012.
This veto is effective today, September 17, 2012.
While the Council's 6-1 vote on this matter may appear veto proof, let this action serve as a plea to each of you to consider the financially detrimental result your previous vote will have on the City, its taxpayers, and its employees.
In my opinion, it is unwise, in the budget you adopted on September 11, to spend one-time money derived by the forced sale of much needed property at the Gulfport Sportsplex to fund current and recurring employee salaries.
Furthermore, great effort and diligent planning has been expended to maintain a balanced budget.
1. The Administration's Budget halts the reduction of the City's rainy-day funds that are currently only enough to operate for two weeks, which could impact the City's bond rating.
2. Like other citizens, the city's 600 professional employees are impacted by the current recession, yet some have not received a cost of living increase in more than 4 years. A pay increase is forever beyond our reach until our workforce has been right-sized as recommended by our Directors and Managers.
3. Several positive economic development opportunities are on the horizon for Gulfport, but until those developments are actually in operation, I feel it is unwise to spend money that is not in hand.