City trims personnel expenses, but mayor wants deeper cuts

VICKSBURG — Projected personnel expenses in the city of Vicksburg will be reduced by about 3 percent for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 but are still too high for Mayor George Flaggs Jr., who wants to lower employee costs more.

The Vicksburg Post reports that a public hearing on the budget is 7 p.m. tomorrow at the City Hall Annex.

Employee pay and benefits make up about 69 percent of the proposed $29.7 million fiscal 2014 budget with 15 city departments showing increases in their respective personnel categories.

The budget includes cuts to 10 city departments, with five departments being cut by more than $100,000 for a total of $1.67 million.

The proposed 2014 general fund budget is $53,479 more than the $29.7 million budget the Mayor and Board of Aldermen approved for 2013.

Flaggs said the budget is based on 97 percent of the city’s anticipated revenue. He said the remaining 3 percent, estimated at $3 million, has been set aside in an emergency fund.

The city has implemented a hiring and wage freeze until Oct. 1, 2014, in response to a possible deficit of $1.1 million for 2013.

Aldermen Willis Thompson and Michael Mayfield are reviewing personnel costs. They said they will have some recommendations before the budget is approved.

“We’ve got several recommendations,” Mayfield said, “including some reductions in pay. I think when we’re done the people will be satisfied with the budget.”

Both aldermen said layoffs are not expected, although Thompson said they would be a last resort if other plans did not sufficiently reduce labor costs.

“I think we need to fill our vacancies from within and not hire any more people and have the department heads use the employees they have,” he said. “I believe we can save money that way.”

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