GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The City of Gulfport is looking to slash its budget for Fiscal Year 2020, which ends September 30, 2020. A memo obtained by WLOX News shows Gulfport’s administration will recommend slashing $2.5 million from the FY2020 budget.
Mayor Billy Hewes’s Process Action Team, along with directors and managers found the savings in 10 departments. The largest savings would come from delaying $881,529 in capital projects, cutting $524,931 from Leisure Service (including $75,000 in wages and salaries), and from cutting $400,000 out of the police department (including $123,250 in wages and salaries).
Urban Development is the only other department where wages and salaries could be cut at a proposed $14,300.
City officials stress that the salaries of current employees will not be cut. The money saved from wages and salaries would be from not filling vacant positions.
Cities across the country have been looking for ways to save money for months due to the economic impact of COVID-19-induced revenue loss. Mayor Hewes told WLOX News in May that he expected to have a good idea of what’s happening with the economy by the end of July.
“We’re on pretty thin margins already, and so we don’t have the luxury of a deep rainy-day fund, and I don’t think most [cities] do,” Hewes said in May. “So we’re doing all we can to curtail expenditures now in this present budget cycle to try to avoid or put off any sort of furlough considerations. We’re looking at the entire structure of the city. What departmental functions make sense, what can go forward, what can be consolidated. No hard decisions can be made, but in these times you have to have everything on the table to make sure you’re making the best decisions with the limited resources that are available.”
Just one month earlier, in April, Gulfport suspended plans for city employee pay raises. The merit increases would have been from 1% up to 3% based on the employees’ performance.
Below is list showing the proposed budget cuts Gulfport city leaders are considering for Fiscal Year 2020.