Aldermen offer to give up salaries to balance budget

Published 7:00 am Friday, August 19, 2016

BUDGETING: The Poplarville Board of Aldermen discussed giving up their salaries to balance the FY 2017 budget.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

BUDGETING: The Poplarville Board of Aldermen discussed giving up their salaries to balance the FY 2017 budget.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

Thursday, the Poplarville Board of Aldermen held a budget workshop to determine how to manage a shortfall of $124,000 in order to balance the fiscal year 2017 budget, which is projected to be $2,299,853.
During the workshop, Alderman Jason Pearson suggested the Board give up their yearly salaries and benefits for a year, including Poplarville Mayor Brad Necaise’s salary, who was not in attendance Thursday, in order to balance this year’s budget.
“It’s just an idea I had,” Pearson said. “You’re scratching and there’s no where else to scratch. To me, the purpose is to serve the city.”
Each of the Board members present said they would give up their yearly salary.
Alderwoman Maggie Smith contacted Alderwoman Shirley Wiltshire, who was not in attendance, and asked her opinion on the matter.
Smith said Wiltshire said, “if that’s what it takes to balance the budget.”
If their salaries are cut, the city’s savings would total $72,000 for FY 2017.
O’Neal said if it had not been for the generosity of the Board, the budget would have been difficult to balance.
The Board will have to vote on the matter during their next regularly scheduled meeting, which will be held on Sept. 6 at 5 p.m.
This year, the city’s deputy clerk will retire. Instead of hiring someone, O’Neal suggested to the Board that they streamline their operations, which would reduce labor costs and bring the city into the modern era.
If they don’t fill the position, the city could save $35,000, O’Neal said. This amount includes the employee’s salary and fringe benefits such as medical insurance.
The city’s software has not been upgraded in more than 20 years, she added. They are currently using about five vendors for IT, accounting, water billing and privilege licenses, O’Neal said.
“The accounting system is a DOS-based system,” she said. “We will be able to serve customers more efficiently and effectively and utilize real time accounting. The city can also save about $17,000 by alleviating the need for these five vendors.”
At the next Board meeting, O’Neal anticipates the Board approving her travel expenses to Biloxi so she can research Delta software.
“I’m aware that their services are used by the county and other cities as well,” O’Neal said. “I also plan to visit similar sized cities to make sure when we make a selection it’s for the city’s best interest.”
She also plans to seek co-op workers to fill gaps in labor. However, there will be no new money spent since it’s included in the same budget, O’Neal said.
The Board also discussed making cuts in other departments to balance next year’s budget.
Altogether, the Board managed to cut about $42,058. If they vote to cut their salaries, the total amount saved would be about $119,788, leaving $4,212, left to be cut, which O’Neal said she could run the numbers and find more areas.
O’Neal said the millage and tax levy will remain the same, 53, for the general fund and 1.5 for the debt service. According to information provided by the Pearl River County Tax Assessor, a total assessed value mil equals $16,653. In 2015, a total assessed value mil equaled $14,833.
The Board scheduled another budget workshop for today at 5 p.m. in the boardroom at City Hall.

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