Gulfport City Council discusses budget concerns

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Gulfport City Council held a special meeting to discuss their 2014 budget. It's been apparent one of the key issues the city is facing is the half million dollar deficit. The majority of Tuesday's meeting consisted of the hiring process for police officers.

Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania asked the council to look into revamping the hiring process for sworn officers. The chief talked a lot about how the city can speed up the hiring process. Papania told council members the officer retention rate is about four years and the current hiring process is drawn out, making it hard to keep a large officer staff.

Newly elected Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes sat quietly through the meeting, but says this was just one of many meetings needed to finalize next year's budget.

"Right now we're just looking at what is going to be available to us making sure we live within our means. There are not going to be any considerations of tax increases or millage," said Mayor Hewes.

After the meeting, Chief Papania told WLOX he just wasn't ready to comment on the budget concerns. Mayor Hewes says they will be creative in finding ways to fix the city's debt. WLOX will be following this budget matter.

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