Aldermen discuss budget with department heads

Published 7:00 am Saturday, July 9, 2016

BUDGET TALK: At left, Poplarville Police Chief Butch Raby discusses some of his capital project wish list with the Poplarville Board of Aldermen during Friday’s budget workshop.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

BUDGET TALK: At left, Poplarville Police Chief Butch Raby discusses some of his capital project wish list with the Poplarville Board of Aldermen during Friday’s budget workshop.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

Friday, the Poplarville Board of Aldermen held a second workshop to discuss the 2017 fiscal year budget. During that meeting, Poplarville Fire Chief Jonathan Head and Poplarville Police Chief Butch Raby addressed their financial requests for the upcoming budget year.
The city’s projected revenue for 2017 is $3.375 million and projected expenses are $3.372 million. These are preliminary numbers and the budget won’t be finalized until September, Poplarville City Clerk Jane O’Neal said.
During his meeting with the Board, Head explained his request, which included two sets of turnout gear, a LifePak-1000 automated external defibrillator and a 1.5-inch line fire hose. The total amount requested is $7,500. The projected 2017 fire department budget is $310,785, which does not include the requested items.
Head said that turnout gear has about a 10-year lifespan. Each firefighter on scene needs that gear, he added.
“Out of the 14 firefighters that are issued gear, five are out of date,” Head said. “They are in decent condition, but out of date by standards.”
Poplarville Mayor Brad Necaise asked Head if there’s been an instance when a firefighter wasn’t covered on scene. Head answered “no.”
Grant funding may be available for the defibrillator, O’Neal said.
After Head finished, Raby spoke with the Board about his requests for the police department.
They include an investigator at an hourly rate of $17.47 per hour, a 10 percent raise for the police chief, a two percent cost of living raise for the officers, the purchase of radios, selling two Chevy Tahoes, purchase of two new Ford Explorers and a new air-conditioning unit and electrical repair for the police station.
Communication with other officers is key and Raby told the Board their radios need to be updated. They can communicate with dispatchers but not with other officers, he said. Raby received a quote from Motorola, which totaled $15,945.
He estimates the sale of the two Tahoes would bring in about $28,000 and the cost of the two new Ford Explorers, which would include police packages, to be about $50,000.
There is about $30,000 in the forfeiture fund, which Alderwoman Maggie Smith told Raby he could use for the purchase of the new vehicles, along with the funds made from the sale of the two Tahoes.
The total projected budget for the police department is $683,080 plus $61,472 for a DARE resource officer, which does not include the requested items.
In another matter, the Board also discussed Waste Management’s price increase. The current rate for the city is $12.89 and the new residential rate will be $13.82. Residents in the city of Poplarville pay $13.20 per month for waste management services.
Alderwoman Shirley Wiltshire said they may adjust that number to $14.
“So we don’t have to keep increasing prices if prices go up next year,” she said.
It’s been at least two years since residents saw an increase in their garbage collection rate, she added.
O’Neal told the Board to not “expect any more revenue than they got this year.” Last year, the city budgeted about $2.1 million in revenue and to date have received about $1.8 million, or 86 percent, O’Neal said.
“There’s not going to be any additional revenue to back up any new expenditures,” she said.
Necaise said they are going to have to look at ways of generating more revenue.
“Homestead exemption and privilege license are two areas that are down,” he said. “We are going to have to move towards creating a place for people to live, not to rent, but to live. There’s plenty of vacancy in terms of land, there are plenty of homes for sale. Sitting here and going into the meetings and voting ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is part of our responsibility, but we’re going to have to find some ways to generate revenue. Otherwise, it’s going to get worse year after year after year. We’re going to be sitting here trying to figure out what we’re going to cut, what we’re going to buy and we shouldn’t have to do that.”
The Board took no action on the requests, O’Neal said.

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