Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. delivered his 2012-2013 budget address to the Jackson City Council today. Here is the statement in its entirety, verbatim:
Fiscal Year 2012-2013 Budget Address
Mayor Harvey Johnson, Jr.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
President Yarber, members of the City Council, city employees, citizens of Jackson, and friends; thank you all for being here today as we present the FY 2012-2013 Executive Budget for the City of Jackson. This document is now before the City Council for review, any adjustments and subsequent adoption on or before September 15, 2012. Proposed expenditures include $133.6 million in General Fund appropriations, and $143.7 million in non-General Fund appropriations, for a total operating budget of $277.3 million.
This annual operating budget represents a $10.3 million or 3.9 percent increase over the current year’s operating budget of $267 million.
There is also a $24.9 million or a 49.4 percent increase from the FY 12 Capital Budget of $50.2 million, which makes this year’s total Capital Budget $75.1 million. This increase is primarily to fund water and sewer system improvements.
The total FY 2012-2013 proposed budget is $352.5 million which is 11.1 percent more than last year’s.
The City of Jackson has maintained a tight budget for the past three years. During this time, we’ve cut costs. We’ve realized savings. We’ve focused on efficiency. We have not decreased our level of city services during the tough economic times. We’ve not raised taxes, and we’ve been able to introduce new initiatives and programs to improve our city and to enhance the quality of life for our citizens. And we have not laid off or furloughed a single employee. (applause)
My administration remains ever-committed to being excellent stewards of taxpayers’ dollars. And this continues to be the primary focus of the budgeting process.
The City of Jackson’s financial outlook is very sound. We’ve been recognized for our financial management by the Government Finance Officers Association. We maintain strong bond ratings from our credit agencies. Our local economy is growing as evidenced by the increase in the City’s assessed valuation. Our tax collections are up this year. We’ve seen an estimated 1.8 percent growth in our Capital City’s population since the 2010 census. These are all indicators of great things for the City of Jackson.
However, with all that said, we realize that we have challenges ahead. This year’s budget will also be tight, but we will move our city forward, continue to provide important services for our citizens, and face our challenges head on. And we will do all of this while living within our means.
Our Department Directors continue to provide important oversight to their department’s budgets, and I applaud them for continuing to focus on efficiency and accountability.
This year’s proposed budget is also a flat one. We are faced with funding a mandated increase to PERS, the state retirement system, of 1.33 percent for our city employees’ retirement. We will be funding the across-the-board pay raises that were provided to employees this fiscal year for twelve months in the coming year, as opposed to nine months this year. We have municipal election costs that we must budget; and we continue to have escalating health care costs.
To offset these added expenses, I have directed that the City’s overall overtime budget be cut by fifteen percent. I have instructed each department to hold off filling any non-critical, unfilled positions until April 1st. We are also expecting to realize savings due to efficiencies created by the time management system we are currently implementing, through our energy efficient lighting projects, and the establishment of the NAPA parts supply program at the City Garage. We also expect to see additional revenue from fines and fees assessed to the property tax bills of those individuals who don’t take care of their properties here in the City.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am not proposing a tax increase for this year. (applause) We are instead going to do what we have done in the past – tighten our belts, eliminate waste, focus on efficiency and get the important work we need to do here in the City of Jackson done with sustained, sequential action.
We have some dedicated city employees who are often asked to do more with less. We were pleased to be able to offer employee raises this fiscal year, however, due to limited resources we are unable to offer a raise this coming year. We are, however, subsidizing 69.2 percent of employees’ insurance premium to keep our employees from having to come out of pocket for the $1.2 million increase that had to be budgeted to cover a projected increase in health care costs. By the way, the city of Jackson covers 3,800 individuals under its health plan. This number includes employees, retirees and spouses and dependents.
We’ve created a strong foundation in our budgeting process over these past years. However, we must shift our focus from simply presenting a balanced budget each year, to a multi-year sustainable budget. The multi-year approach will allow us to strategically plan for the growing challenges we face in the coming years. Additionally, we will have to make some assumptions relative to our revenue streams, and forecast their availability over a longer period of time.
The Mayor and City Council have developed six public policy initiatives that we hope to use in the multi-year budgeting process going forward.
The Public Policy Initiatives are:
Improving Government Services,
Infrastructure, Transportation and Technology Enhancement,
Economic and Cultural Development,
Youth Development, and
Fighting crime and ensuring that our citizens are safe, and feel safe remain the top priorities for my administration. We’ve made some good progress so far this year in cutting property crime seventeen percent by making adjustments to resources, and by the creation of our JPD DART Unit.
In the coming budget year we will again hold three recruit classes and we fully expect to meet our goal of having at least 500 officers on the streets of Jackson. (applause) We still have funding from the $3 million COPS grant that we were awarded this fiscal year that could bolster our department to as many as 525 officers.
Chief Rebecca Coleman has done an excellent job (applause)of providing a solid foundation of leadership for the department and her aim of making sure that we have not just the quantity of officers we need, but quality officers committed to serving and protecting our citizens, is to be commended.
Each class of JPD recruits is made up of individuals who undergo extensive background, psychological and other rigorous testing before they even make the class. Police Chief Coleman also personally interviews every applicant. She is serious about our Police Officers and I want to recognize her for her continued service. (applause)
We will also beef up our efforts to hire experienced officers in the coming budget year. We’ve had some relatively good success over the past year of recruiting more experienced officers to the force and we hope to build upon this.
We want to expand recruitment outreach and will develop a statewide campaign to cast the widest net for officers who may want to join the force.
We will also be funding promotions in the Police Department this year for sergeants and lieutenants. This continues our focus on providing a clear career path for our officers.
We’re will continue to seek out more technology to aid us in our crime fighting efforts. In fact, the city expects to receive over a quarter of a million grant from the Department of Justice providing equipment, such as bulletproof vests, helmets for the motorcycle patrol and segways.
We will be implementing a new radio system this year, which will increase communication between JPD and other local law enforcement agencies.
We are developing an alternative sentencing program that we hope to implement quickly. Non-violent misdemeanants could be sentenced to serve on clean-up crews. This will assist in clearing up jail space, making sure that offenders work off their fines, and assist the city with clean-up efforts. This works in other communities and it can work in Jackson. (applause)
Upon the recommendation of Chief Raymond McNulty, we’ve also budgeted for two recruit classes for the Jackson Fire Department this year. We will be funding promotions for relief driver operators, lieutenants, captains and division chiefs as well.
The Fire Department’s rolling fleet will be upgraded to include the purchase of four new pumper trucks, three ladder trucks and one mobile command vehicle. We will also be purchasing important new equipment, including 53 airpacks to accommodate the 53 additional firefighters that are being budgeted this year. (applause)
Improving Government Services
We continue to focus on efficiency, cutting costs and improving work functions in order to deliver the optimum level of city services to our citizens with the resources that are available.
We’ve implemented performance measures for every work unit and every department in the City of Jackson. We will continue to gauge our performance based on goals that we’ve set and we will make adjustments where we need to.
This year we’ll be implementing automatic vehicle locators on select rolling stock in the City’s fleet. This system will allow us to monitor the fleet usage, bringing greater accountability and providing information on how we can better deploy our resources.
We will be hiring personnel to continue the city’s sustainability efforts. The sustainability office will oversee our energy efficiency efforts, both internally and across the city.
We will also be better coordinating city services for our cleanup efforts. Our Operation Clean City initiative is up and running and we’ve had great success so far, but we are going to deploy inmate labor and city workers to redouble our cleanup efforts. (applause)
Infrastructure, Transportation and Technology Enhancement
During this current fiscal year, we’ve focused heavily on enhancing our technology. We made more than $2 million in investments in technology that will improve city services for our citizens and processes for our staff. This coming year, we’ve decreased the technology budget, because many of the systems that we purchased this current year will be implemented.
We will be completing full implementation of the time and attendance system. We will be looking at various enterprise resource planning systems to integrate internal and external management information across the entire organization. We will be fully implementing our court services system. We will be implementing a new system for our permits and code services division. We will also be implementing phase two of our 311 system that includes mobile applications and work orders. And we will be revamping our City website. (applause)
We will continue to improve our infrastructure in the coming months. We expect to sign the consent decree with the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency this calendar year that will mandate wastewater system upgrades over the next fifteen years or more. We’ve already made some good progress in addressing some of the concerns.
We will not be raising water or sewer rates in the coming year’s budget. (applause) Instead, we will be entering into a performance contract to upgrade our utility billing system, make wastewater improvements, and replace antiquated and dysfunctional water meters. We anticipate that the resulting proceeds will allow the City to leverage funding to make additional improvements to our water and wastewater systems.
We’ll be going back to the State for State Revolving Loan Funds to continue this important work on our wastewater system as well.
We will be completing the Water System Master Plan update during this coming budget year which will guide us in future incremental improvements of the entire system.
Drainage issues remain a concern for many parts of the city, and we will be finishing up our Drainage Management Plan this coming year. (applause) This document will also guide us in prioritizing improvements, as well as help us make our case to funding agencies.
The City will be investing in another street sweeper this year, bringing our fleet to three. These street sweepers will help eliminate silt and debris from our drainage systems, while assisting the City in meeting federally mandated storm water management standards.
And speaking of streets, we have $1.163 million dedicated to street resurfacing in this proposed budget. Most of this comes from a dedicated millage. However, I think we can do better than that. The condition of some of our streets remains a major concern for me and our citizens. That’s why I have City Finance looking at the prospect of issuing a $10 million street repaving bond issue THIS COMING YEAR. I believe we can pay for it over time with our dedicated street resurfacing millage. We could pave many more streets, and these bond funds could leverage millions of more federal and state grant projects for roads and bridges. (applause) Although not an ideal means of funding street resurfacing, our streets are in such bad condition that a significant amount of money is needed NOW to address the problem, and a bond issue would provide that level of funding. (applause)
I will also be requesting more assistance from Hinds County for street repaving in the City of Jackson. (applause)
We just learned last week that we’re also receiving $1 million in Federal Transportation Funds to work on the Mill Street Bridge on Woodrow Wilson Drive. That work will start this coming budget year.
My administration remains committed to public transportation. At the beginning of the current budget year, we implemented important route changes to JATRAN. I appreciate the City Council’s vote on these changes, and I’m happy to report in this fiscal year we’ve seen a marked increase in ridership. In fact, overall JATRAN ridership has increased by 25 percent!
In the upcoming budget, we will be purchasing four new Handilift buses to accommodate our disabled community. (applause)
Economic and Cultural Development
We continue to focus on supporting development all around the Capital City. We’ve issued $660 million in building permits since 2009. This is a strong indicator that we have developers interested in Jackson and are steadily doing business here in the Capital City. The numbers don’t lie.
Our Small Business Grants continue to bolster the success of our City’s small businesses. We’ve issued around $700,000 and we will continue to offer the Storefront Improvement and Small Business Development grants in the coming budget year to new and existing small business owners. (applause)
In the new fiscal year, we expect to have major development activity taking place. The first phase of the $57 million Baptist Medical Office Building Development should be completed. The new $3 million Whole Foods Market construction should begin. The Iron Horse Grill renovation will begin. And we will continue to work on the Mississippi Medical Corridor plan.
Our Jobs for Jacksonians program has had great success. We have assisted hundreds of Jacksonians find employment. We will continue to work with developers and city contractors to employ more of our citizens. We are also looking at more workforce development opportunities, especially involving the growing green industry. And in several weeks we’ll hold the 2nd Annual Jobs for Jacksonians Job Fair. This budget will also allow for a full-time coordinator for the Jobs for Jacksonians initiative.
We engaged a marketing firm to develop a marketing plan highlighting the great things going on in Jackson. We need to focus on our positive attributes. We need to show the world that the City of Jackson is open for business. We are open for tourism and our city is a great place to live. (applause) So, this coming year we will be fully implementing this marketing plan and we are going to Celebrate Jackson. (applause)
Just this week, we shared the results the Economic Impact Study of Thalia Mara Hall.
Thalia Mara has great potential as a showcase performing arts venue for our city. It’s the U.S. home of the International Ballet Competition – the Olympics of ballet – and hosts competitors and spectators from around the globe. Thalia Mara also hosts premier traveling Broadway shows and is used by the Mississippi Opera and the Mississippi Symphony. We appreciate the private partnership being proposed to seek funding for significant improvements to this important facility, and we hope to start the renovation process this coming year.
We will also be looking at Thalia Mara’s management and marketing structure in this budget year in order to maximize this facility’s use.
The Mayor’s Public Art Initiative was unveiled this summer with the downtown traffic boxes. We’ve had great feedback from our residents and the many visitors who come to downtown Jackson. We will be continuing this effort and the next round of traffic boxes to be completed will be on Highway 80. (applause)
And speaking of Highway 80, my administration remains committed to the revitalization and redevelopment of Highway 80. We made important, promised changes to the zoning and land use plans of the corridor this year that will guide future development all along the corridor. We are continuing with construction of the new JATRAN facility, and our relocation of some 300 city employees and various city offices to Metrocenter is imminent. (applause)
A couple of weeks ago, this year’s Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program ended for hundreds of young people who were provided the opportunity to work this summer. I’m pleased to announce that we are maintaining our level of commitment in this coming year’s budget to hire at least two hundred young people. (applause) The private sector stepped up to the plate again this summer and hired nearly 300 additional young people, and we are certain to match or exceed that number again next year.
We are continuing our relationship with the AmeriCorps program. The AmeriCorps Program provides meaningful training, education and volunteer opportunities all over the city of Jackson for so many of our young people. I applaud the work that they do and the partnership they have with the Department of Human and Cultural Services.
Just this past weekend thousands of young JPS school students, their parents, school administrators, city staff and other members of the community came out for the 3rd Annual First Day Program. We are committed to our city’s young people and we want them to have a great school year and to know that the entire city of Jackson is behind them. (applause)
I think there is so much more that we can do with after school programs, youth enrichment events, after school tutoring and other community services in our public schools. That’s why I will be continuing dialogue with our new superintendent about opening up our public schools after hours as community centers. (applause)
Several weeks ago, I had the distinct honor to spend some time with First Lady Michelle Obama during the announcement of her Let’s Move! Cities, Counties and Towns initiative. Her efforts to stress the importance of good nutrition and exercise are making a huge impact on our young people. Childhood obesity is a serious problem in our nation, state and city. That’s why I’m proposing a citywide wellness initiative focusing not only on childhood obesity but other preventable medical conditions for our citizens.