Melton to Devise New Budget | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Melton to Devise New Budget

Jackson Mayor Frank Melton told City Council members this morning to toss out the current city budget after some members criticized the discord between the mayor and his own budget. He vowed to produce a new budget by tomorrow morning.

Melton discredited his current budget yesterday, telling a Clarion-Ledger reporter that he did not agree with his own budget proposal's call for a tax increase.

"I did tell Clarion-Ledger reporter Arnold Lindsey that I was not going to go for the tax increase. (Administration Department Director) Rick (Hill) has to do what Rick has to do, and he made recommendations that I disagree with, but he made a whole bunch that I do agree with. … I do not want our administrators to come in here and say this is what the mayor wants. I want the administrators to come in here and tell you what's really going on, and I want us to make a joint decision."

Melton made a similar move during the 2006 budget process, astounding council members by pulling a budget proposal containing a mill increase—within hours of his own administration proposing it.

Melton is also calling for extreme cuts to the city's public transit system and the Jackson Redevelopment Authority—propositions not addressed in the budget before the council meeting this morning, according to Ward 2 Councilman Leslie McLemore. McLemore decried the mayor's inconsistency with his own budget, with only a handful of days left before the council must approve a balanced budget or break state statutes.

Ӆ The budget we are wrestling with today does not call for the partial elimination of JATRAN and the partial elimination of JRA, and if that is really what you want to do then you should bring us a budget asking us to subsidize JATRAN … but right now, the headline in the paper tomorrow will be 'the mayor said this about JATRAN and eliminating certain programs,' while here we are dealing with a whole different budget. … I really think that if that is your will, it should be reflected in the document that you bring to us," McLemore said.

McLemore went on to deride the mayor's wavering support for the tax increase, which is expressly called for in the budget document.

Ӆ if you say the tax increase is off the table, that's fine, but the budget here has the tax increase in it," McLemore said. "The budget-maker man needs to know that before he even brings that to us. If it says we're going to provide X number of policemen, that we're going to provide a raise for public safety people, then we need to find the money, and that recommendation ought to come from the budget. Please, sir, capture those in the budget."

Melton denied the budget being his, despite his position as mayor.

"It is not my budget. We run this city. I don't run this city, and we just have to come to grips with that," Melton said, explaining that he is "not a finance person" and that he had intended his full-time department heads to work with the part-time city council members to bang out a budget, rather than leaving it to administration accountants.

Incensed, McLemore schooled the mayor on city policy.

"Mr. Mayor, one of your primary responsibilities … as mayor is to shepherd this budget and deal with this budget. That's much more important than you going out and doing some of the other things you do. This budget is crucial. This is the framework for the government of the city of Jackson. You are the mayor," he said.

Equally vexed, Melton vowed to produce a new budget, containing no tax increase, by tomorrow morning.

"With the president's approval, I'll have this budget balanced in the morning. You're not going to like it, but I will balance it in the morning," Melton promised.

Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon was dubious of the prospect. "Should we consider this budget that's been presented to us, with your name on it, as not the budget then?"

"You can throw that one in the garbage can," Melton answered. "(McLemore) just told me to balance it and it'll be balanced in the morning."

Budget Committee Chairman Marshand Crisler reminded Melton that he is inextricably chained to the budget issue, despite the mayor's attempts to coax contribution from council members. "The way the system's set up, there's no way you can exonerate yourself from the budget process," Crisler said.

"I'm not trying to do that. I'm just asking for help," Melton said, before making a reference to his work with young people. "You're right, Dr. McLemore: the top priority ought to be getting this budget out and it will be balanced in the morning, but my top priority is to take a kid sitting out there in the hall and get him registered for school, so he can pay taxes someday."

Melton then left the council chambers, pulling Hill along after him. He would not take questions from the Jackson Free Press on his new impending budget.

Previous Comments

ID
129385
Comment

“You’re right, Dr. McLemore: the top priority ought to be getting this budget out and it will be balanced in the morning, but my top priority is to take a kid sitting out there in the hall and get him registered for school, so he can pay taxes someday.” Blah, blah, blah...the children.

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-09-06T12:42:00-06:00
ID
129386
Comment

SOS

Author
jasp
Date
2007-09-06T13:02:56-06:00
ID
129387
Comment

What happens if there isn't a balanced budget? Does the state penalize the city or take over the finances?

Author
golden eagle '97
Date
2007-09-06T13:08:19-06:00
ID
129388
Comment

§ 21-35-33. Penalty for violation. Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and punished as provided by law, which shall be in addition to any other penalty now or hereafter imposed by law. From MS Code. My guess is this is one of those misdemeanors that would result in the removal of Melton if possible?

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-09-06T13:30:30-06:00
ID
129389
Comment

Insanity. So, Melton's going to pull an all-nighter and produce a balanced budget by tomorrow. Cool beans.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-09-06T14:01:41-06:00
ID
129390
Comment

Does this remind anyone of that SNL sketch where Bush's solution to all policy problems was "workin' hard" and perhaps "comin' in on Saturday"?

Author
laughter
Date
2007-09-06T14:17:29-06:00
ID
129391
Comment

ladd: So, Melton's going to pull an all-nighter and produce a balanced budget by tomorrow. Cool beans. Uhhh... remember the last time he pulled an all-nighter and issued something the next morning? It was something about a week's priorities dealing with folks "living in destitute," requiring youth employment, gaining "addition officers" (math homework patrol?), "building owners" while cutting grass, and ...oh yeah... "Priotity 2" "deal with and set priorities for the budget." Now why do I feel nervous about a budget Frankie is going to balance overnight?

Author
Rex
Date
2007-09-06T14:46:31-06:00
ID
129392
Comment

But, I thought Melton said he wasn't a finance person. Why is a person who claims to be clueless about finance trying to balance the city's budget? Or am I trying to use logic here?

Author
R Hugh Keading
Date
2007-09-06T21:56:45-06:00
ID
129393
Comment

Anybody listen to Kim Wade today? He said something about Frank leaving town to go to Las Vegas. In the middle of a budget crisis? I hope that his idea of balancing the budget isn't taking the city's finances and going double or nothing on the craps table. To tell you the truth, I'd give my right arm to follow Frank around in Vegas. I can see him taking a free drink from every waitress who walks past him and later claiming that he is the mayor of Las Vegas and he will own that casino tomorrow.

Author
golden eagle '97
Date
2007-09-06T22:00:30-06:00
ID
129394
Comment

But, I thought Melton said he wasn't a finance person. No s***! He'd be fired from A.G. Edwards the same day when they find out how clueless he is. Why is a person who claims to be clueless about finance trying to balance the city's budget? Or am I trying to use logic here? Right now, anybody's logic is better than Frank's.

Author
golden eagle '97
Date
2007-09-06T22:05:03-06:00
ID
129395
Comment

I feel sorry for the people that work for him lol.

Author
GLewis
Date
2007-09-06T22:23:37-06:00
ID
129396
Comment

BMI is having their Urban Music Awards. Must be nice.

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-09-06T23:05:29-06:00
ID
129397
Comment

“Mr. Mayor, one of your primary responsibilities … as mayor is to shepherd this budget and deal with this budget. That’s much more important than you going out and doing some of the other things you do. This budget is crucial. This is the framework for the government of the city of Jackson. You are the mayor,” he said. BOOYAH! Reality just hit the fan. To tell you the truth, I'd give my right arm to follow Frank around in Vegas. I can see him taking a free drink from every waitress who walks past him and later claiming that he is the mayor of Las Vegas and he will own that casino tomorrow. That made my day. ROTFL!

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-09-07T06:37:48-06:00
ID
129398
Comment

I feel sorry for the people that work for him lol. I don't. They make a heluva lot of money and apparently don't have to worry much about following the law or doing any kind of REAL work.

Author
R Hugh Keading
Date
2007-09-07T07:42:34-06:00
ID
129399
Comment

Actually, Hugh the people that will lose their jobs are the ones who need the money the most. You think the Mayor is getting rid of any of his people? Hell no! It is going to be the nice woman in Parks and Rec or the guy who processes your water bill - not Melton's minions. Now how about some Ledger slight of hand for the readers: Headline: Residents to council: Don't hike city taxes Then later in the story they report: Melton also told the council he would veto any tax increase presented to him. Budget Committee Chairman Marshand Crisler [color=red]reminded Melton that the mayor, not the council, presents tax increases.[/color] emphasis mine. What's up with that Arnold? Grace? In his office, a seemingly frustrated Melton said that, in addition to JATRAN, he intended to cut the $579,367 budgeted in 2008 for the city's two golf courses and to cut all monies given to the Jackson Zoo. To top it off, Melton said he also would cut the City Council's travel budget. The Zoo? Can you say Detroit? And now Weill wants to be the Grinch that stole Parks and Rec. Ward 1 Councilman Jeff Weill encouraged Parks and Recreation officials to continue looking for ways to privatize the golf courses and other functions to save money. If the entire City Council votes to restore the $800,000 to the Parks and Recreation budget, it would prevent the termination of five workers whose jobs would have ended after Oct. 1, when the budget takes effect. It also would prevent the shutdown of three of Jackson's six swimming pools Councilman Weill needs to be reminded that many children in this city do not have friends with pools in their yards or access to private clubs for recreational activities. You don't think the Mayor's office has $800,000 in fat Councilman Weill? How about encouraging them to find cuts!

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-09-07T08:18:56-06:00
ID
129400
Comment

You know his response to the Council's criticisms is typical Melton. If you don't go along with me, then I'm going to act like a spoiled child, stick out my lips, throw a tantrum, take my toys and not play with you. He throws out these threats to cut the Zoo, Parks & Rec, JRA, without any real serious analysis.

Author
lanier77
Date
2007-09-07T10:42:10-06:00
ID
129401
Comment

I think I should have clarified my comment, Pikersam. I don't feel sorry for the cronies that work for Melton, because they get paid a lot for doing nothing beneficial for the city. I do feel sorry for the rest who face possible cutbacks and layoffs and no raises while our $120,000 a year mayor takes flight every time there's a crisis.

Author
R Hugh Keading
Date
2007-09-07T15:08:36-06:00
ID
129402
Comment

I continue to ask the question, Why doesn't melton cut his own salary? He worked "free" for the MBN. He hasn't done anything for the City of Jackson but, caused a lot of heartache, pain and financial woes. It should not coast us anything for this type of service. Carolyn Redd is gone so let's get rid of all of those other do nothing dead-beats. frank said at his inaruration that he could run the City of Jackson with himself and one other person. He didn't even include his body guards. I guess that was a given. Let's give that a try. It couldn't be any worse.

Author
justjess
Date
2007-09-10T12:22:13-06:00

Like independent media outlets around the world, the Jackson Free Press works hard to produce important content on a limited budget. We'd love your help! Become a JFP VIP member today and/or donate to our journalism fund. Thanks for considering a JFP VIP membership or one-time support.

Comments

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

comments powered by Disqus