BREAKING: City Budget $13 Million in the Hole | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

BREAKING: City Budget $13 Million in the Hole

The city administration updated an earlier estimation of a $3.9 million budget deficit today at the 3 p.m. budget meeting. "The city is currently out of budget about $13.1 million," said city Director of Administration Rick Hill, who then recommended the city make drastic cuts to the Department of Parks and Recreation and JATRAN, as well as engage in a debt restructuring plan that would get the city about $4 million in up-front money, but cost the city about $5 million over the course of 15 years. The $113,000-salaried City Attorney Sarah O'Reilly-Evans said she will get an extra $35,000 in attorney fees by being involved in the debt restructuring plan, thanks to a stipulation in her employment contract.

Council members couldn't seem to get past the $9 million miscalculation long enough to render a decision on Hill's recommendations.

"Let me ask you this, Rick. Explain to me how we got here," said Councilman Marshand Crisler. "How are we just hearing about this? How do we see this kind of (re-adjustment) in six months? I'm really trying to wrap my mind around this. I'm not picking at you, but we're trusting the finance department to keep us abreast, so that we don't get this type of money thrown at us all at onceŔ

Hill explained that the city had not anticipated a drop of $2.6 million in sales revenue. Other issues sucking away at the original $3.9 million deficit include an $800,000 drop in public franchise fees—taxes the city collects through utility companies—because of a decrease in energy and utility consumption due to a falling municipal population.

The city also must now fully adopt police salary payments once financed through the federal government's COPS Grant, thanks to the city falling below the required number of police officers to qualify for the grant. In addition, the city must link any department pay raise for the fire department to a raise in the police department, giving a combined price of $1.6 million for the entire lot.

The council, still dizzy from the report, made no decision on any of the committee agenda items, voting instead to set another meeting at 3:30 on Monday.

"Some of these items, such as this decision to refinance this bond debt, have far-reaching affects," Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon said. "We have to look at the total picture. This is not the complete picture of our budget. We need a more detailed budget."

The council had been expecting a phone book-sized collection of numbers, including itemized salaries and annual pay for each city employee, among other things. What they got was a 30-page budget summary.

Previous Comments

ID
94968
Comment

I recommend that the big money donors to Melton pony up the money. You know who you are! They can afford it, just like they will be able to afford to continue to live in Jackson. The rest of us will have to leave as rising taxes and lower property values await us! Way to go guys! Yeah to the Clarion Ledger, the alphabet soup of sound bite reporters on TV, and a couple of particular radio hosts who propagated lies and enabled this mess. Although I find it hard to believe that we are losing that much sales tax. May want to talk to the County. We took a hit after the Katrina crowd left who gave us a small boost; but, we are back to pre-Katrina levels according to reports.

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-08-23T18:55:53-06:00
ID
94969
Comment

Also, $2.9 million in Sales tax may explain the $3.9 they bragged about; but, now we are almost $14 million in the hole with little explanation.

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-08-23T19:00:29-06:00
ID
94970
Comment

The council had been expecting a phone book-sized collection of numbers, including itemized salaries and annual pay for each city employee, among other things. What they got was a 30-page budget summary. Why the fear of details? With a $13 mil deficit, it's time out for summaries. At this point, they need to know exactly where every nickel and dime is going.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-08-23T19:43:41-06:00
ID
94971
Comment

And here Kenneth Stokes is trying to block the 80 million dollar Livingston Village project from becoming a reality. Sounds like the city needs this boost to the tax base.

Author
malt
Date
2007-08-23T20:08:23-06:00
ID
94972
Comment

Sounds like this City needs to first ask for a resignation from melton and if he doesn't leave willingly, we should proceed with a forced resignation. The Council sucks, also. The only person that makes any sense is Margaret. This budget business should have been addressed a long time ago. frank was allowed to get away with murder. When the quarter of a million temp. service bill was presented without proper documentation, the Council should have been on his A$$ and stayed there. McLemore's lame excuse about not wanting to have companies say that they City did not pay its bills was a sorry cop-out. That no-good Bluntson is saying that the City inherited this debt from the previous administration. He is too far in the twilight zone to even do any historical financial reference to even make such a statement. Mr. Bluntson and others who haven't a clue to what happened to the funds, let's look at some of the issues: (1). The Lobbying Firm headed by John Waits who brought in over $8,000,000 (Eight Million Dollars) was terminated by frank and Marcus Ward, an inexperienced person with absolutely no lobbying experience was hired to replace this FIRM. Do the math. (2). A check totling over $278,000 (Two Hundred and Seventy Eight Thousand Dollars) was sent back to the University Medical Center because, according to frank, "We don't need that money." These were funds generated through a relationship developed by Johnson and funds were used to assist the police and fire departments. Do the math. (3). The mayor decided that he would be a policeofficer (0 training) so Robert Walker was hired to do the mayor's job at the tune of $80,000+ benefits. Do the math. (4). Jane Sargent was hired and paid $85,000 as a consultant to do the City Plan (a "Plan" that was already put together based on his (fm's) campaign speeches). Do the math. (5) Sara O'Riley Evans was hired by frank as the lawyer for the City at $120,000/yr. and she inadvertely slipped in a knock out punch to stick the City with 1% of every bond. The JPS bond netted over $40,000 and she had the nerve to give the City a discount. LOL but, Do the math. (6) The mayor swears that someone is trying to kill him so he strutts around with 2 (TWO) Bodyguards 24/7. One of them had an overtime bill for $77,000 above his salary. Do the math. (7). The Mobile Command Unit was parked at 2 Carter Grove with the two bodyguards living on it . This operation cost the taxpayers $(1,000/day). This went on for months and months. Do the math. (8). The mayor decided to take his bodyguards on a vacation to the Bahamas. The City was charged over &1,400.00 (bill was never paid or if paid, the Council did not give public notice. Do the math. (9) The mayor used these two men to help with the destruction of the Ridgeway property. Robert Schuler Smit was hired to represent them. Their legal fees was grater than $50,000 (Smith said he reduced it to $30,000. Do the math. (10) The mayor's "sister-in-law" was pair $80,000+ to do some type of job. This nepotistic position has now been vacated; however, she was paid for over two years. Do the math. I'm tired and the City is BROKE. I don't feel like saying anything else because I've done the MATH.

Author
justjess
Date
2007-08-24T10:33:37-06:00
ID
94973
Comment

Y'know, I really have to wonder how Robert "No New Taxes" Weill is going to deal with this. The cognitive dissidence should be amusing.

Author
Pilgrim
Date
2007-08-24T12:32:02-06:00
ID
94974
Comment

Pilgrim, The cognitive cosonance should be "No More TEXAS." ...and from Shakespear:"Out, Out, Damn Spot, Out I Say. LOL!!!!!!!!!!

Author
justjess
Date
2007-08-24T13:43:56-06:00
ID
94975
Comment

Y'know, I really have to wonder how Robert "No New Taxes" Weill is going to deal with this. The cognitive dissidence should be amusing. I believe his first name is Jeff. We'll see how he handles it all. Pilgrim, The cognitive cosonance should be "No More TEXAS." ...and from Shakespear:"Out, Out, Damn Spot, Out I Say. LOL!!!!!!!!!! ROTFLOL!!!!! By the way, I love Macbeth. :-)

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-08-24T18:10:17-06:00
ID
94976
Comment

Oh, don't get all excited everyone. This is how it always happens. Every time. The bottom falls out, developers buy land for cheap, they put in condos and coffee shops, the area gets cordoned off by private security, generates some tax revenue, people want to move in next door, THOSE blighted houses get bought out for cheap. Lather, rinse, repeat. This will be the seventh time we have destroyed Zion.

Author
laughter
Date
2007-08-24T19:20:26-06:00
ID
94977
Comment

I hope you're right, LTG.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-08-24T19:40:11-06:00
ID
94978
Comment

Lets continue to do the math,Stephanie Parker Weaver,Goldia Revies,Jimmy Heidel,All the felons and ex prisoners that are on the payroll.Kenny Stokes not allowing new developement in his ward is just his not wanting new voters to move in and vote him out. This whole budget mess has to be against the law.

Author
GRNY1
Date
2007-08-25T17:54:01-06:00

Support our reporting -- Become a JFP VIP.

The news business has changed dramatically in the past year, and we need your help more than ever to keep bringing you important stories about Jackson and the Metro. Become a JFP VIP with an annual membership or you can Sign up as a monthly supporter. Thanks for anything you can do to empower our journalism!

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

comments powered by Disqus