City leaders call special workshop to hammer out a budget

City leaders call special workshop to hammer out a budget
City leaders meet for a budget workshop Tuesday. (Source: WLOX)

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Moss Point city leaders held a Special Called Budget Work Session Tuesday to discuss the budget for the 2019 fiscal year.

The city has yet to vote on a budget, missing the state mandatory deadline of September 15. Mayor Mario King said the hard deadline to have a budget in place is October 1, when the next fiscal year kicks in.

Wednesday’s meeting is at 3 p.m. at City Hall and it is open to the public. If the city cannot vote on a budget by October 1, the city will essentially shut down. Work will not get done and city employees will not get paid. Legally, the Board of Aldermen could be held personally responsible for those salaries.

A big topic inside City Hall and out in the community is potential layoffs. The mayor has been open about his recommendation to eliminate the fire chief position.

Mayor King told WLOX News on Sunday that position is administrative, and can be absorbed within the department. He’s looking to create a Public Safety Director position with someone who will cover their current job duties as well as all emergency response.

At Tuesday’s budget workshop, the mayor also recommended not filling one vacant position within the fire department, and decreasing built-in overtime pay to $50,000. Mayor King suggested the three employees who get the most overtime pay be placed on salary and receive a $1,500-per-year increase in pay.

Alderman Wayne Lennep spoke up and asked the mayor not to proceed with the restructuring of the fire department. He said not filling the vacant position and cutting overtime pay would make up what the city would save by getting rid of the fire chief position salary.

The police chief position is not up for elimination. Mayor King on Sunday said that position is administrative, but also serves as a patrol officer and writes tickets. On Tuesday, the board discussed not filling the vacant animal control officer position and leaving the deputy chief position open for another year.

Other proposed cuts include eliminating one full time court position.

Over at the city clerks office, the mayor is recommending moving some full-time positions into part-time positions.

Alderman Sherwood Bradford requested that the mayor look into all city positions. He wants to be sure they aren’t cutting jobs that bring revenue into the city. Mayor King agreed and said he has considered all things.

Mayor King also suggested zero dollars for the city’s travel budget. If a city employee wants to travel, the mayor is recommending that employee pay out of pocket. He added that if assistance is needed, it will be on a one-on-one basis.

The reason for the cuts is an anticipated deficit in the General Fund. Mayor King said the millage increase would have brought about $480,000 into the General Fund, but that was voted down. Now the city is doing what’s necessary to make up that money.

The proposed cuts would save the city about $484,000.

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