Budget Battle Heats Up In Biloxi - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

08/25/05

Budget Battle Heats Up In Biloxi

Biloxi Police Chief Bruce Dunagan says he's worried that the council's proposed budget may force him to cut positions, equipment, and training. Under the council's proposal for next fiscal year, the police department would lose more than $1 million.

Chief Dunagan says cutting the money would put public safety and lives on the line.

"We feel this is the bare minimum that we can be projected to do our job for the city and all the citizens. If we take anything else less than that, we're going to revert back to the 70s and 80s. We won't be able to do our jobs. We won't have the tools, and we won't have the equipment."

During another discussion, the Biloxi council president wants to know why Mayor A.J. Holloway needs a new car. During budget talks, Mike Fitzpatrick questioned the administration's request for $35,000 to buy a new car.

Fitzpatrick raised concerns about that request, especially when the mayor's budget proposal contains no pay raises.

"A tax increase. No salary increases for employees and no capital improvements, and you're asking $35,000 in your own office for a brand new, I guess SUV? I would say shame on you mayor," Fitzpatrick said.

Mayor Holloway said, "The mayor's office, by ordinance, gets a new car every four years. When you start a new term, and new vehicle. I do a lot of travelling. I drive a SUV, and I think it's legitimate, deservingly. I take a lot of people that come into the city on tours".

Mayor Holloway currently drives a Yukon. If he gets another one, it would be his third vehicle and he is serving his fourth term. Holloway adds that the cars he's driven in the past are turned over to the police department when he gets a new one.

Council members will meet again next Tuesday to look at final figures for all departments. They have until mid-September to adopt next year's budget.

By: Trang Pham-Bui

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