Monday, August 31, 2015

Jackson City Council responds to Mayor with its own budget proposal.

The Jackson City Council presented its own budget recommendations two weeks ago.  Councilmen Tyrone Hendrix, DeKeither Stamps, and Junior posted their plan on Facebook and various websites. 


 Jackson City Council presents comprehensive budget plan to prevent Mayor’s proposed tax hike
(Jackson, Miss.) -- Over the past several days, the Jackson City Council has heard presentations from representatives from each of the city's departments. At the onset of this process, we have made it clear that we would look at every option to put the city on sound financial ground. After review of the Mayor's proposal for an 8% tax increase and hearing  directly from department heads, we believe there are savings opportunities that will allow the city to avoid Mayor Yarber's proposed tax increase and minimize, although not eliminate, the need for proposed furloughs.

The Council has gone through the budget line by line and has presented to the Mayor and to the Citizens of Jackson a budget plan that is financially prudent and yet protects a quality of life the citizens of Jackson can be proud of. The budget plan we are proposing will require cuts beyond what the Mayor has already offered, and will leave no choice but to let go of some valued city employees. However, this plan does not lower the number of police officers or fire fighters who presently serve.  In addition to not compromising on public safety, the Council believes that a handful of staff reductions here at city hall can help lessen the blow to our employees out in the streets who provide the most important work to citizens.

Key Cuts Include:
  • $1,200,000 Cut to unessential technology and equipment purchases.
  • $2,018,197.96 Cut to vacant positions in various departments.
  • $494,250 Cuts in City Hall
  • $115,000 Cut to outside consultants in Planning Department
“We have been told by the Mayor that, if we do not raise the tax rate by 8%, we will need to find $5,851,290 of additional savings elsewhere in the budget” explained Council President Melvin Priester.  “We have also been told by the Mayor that cutting people’s salaries by a furlough will net approximately 3 million dollars in savings in our budget” noted Council Vice-President Tyrone Hendrix.  By cutting the budget in the manner proposed by Council, the City will save approximately $7,640,858.96.  “That’s enough not to raise taxes and lessens the need for a furlough, particularly among city workers who are most vulnerable,” says Councilman De’Keither Stamps.



The City Council proposes making the following cuts to the budget:

1. Reduce the City’s allocation to the zoo from 1.2 million dollars per year to $600,000 for right now.  We love the zoo and recognize its importance to the city. But if we raise taxes, there won’t be a city left to support the zoo. We believe, after looking at the budget that if the mayor follows the revenue and budgetary suggestions of the council over the next few months, there will be enough revenue before the end of the fiscal year to give the zoo a second payment of $600,000.

Savings from Cut to Zoo = $600,000

2. We should reduce the amount of money we are holding in reserve from the general fund for unlikely financial contingencies.  Right now, we are proposing to budget 4,310,000 in reserve on a matter with the JRA where JRA is likely to refinance the matter itself and not need any of that money. Rather than keep that full amount in reserve, the council proposes reducing that reserve by 2.8 million (to $1,510,000).

Cut to JRA commitment = $2,800,000

3. Freeze an additional $1,000,000 in unfilled, vacant positions in the police department. This fiscal year, there are approximately 80 budgeted, but unfilled positions in the police department. The mayor has proposed freezing 50 of those positions.  If we froze the remaining 30 that would save $1,239,000. The Council proposes meeting in the middle and freezing 1,000,000 million of the remaining thirty positions.  The police department already plans not to hold a recruiting class this year. These positions have been unfilled for several years. Most importantly, through the leadership of Chief Vance, we have seen a decrease in crime this year with the present size of our force. While we always wish we had more officers, these financial times require us to have a budget that is the size of the force we have rather than the force we wish we had. 

We similarly propose freezing additional vacant and unfilled positions in the fire department and public works department.  With regards to Fire, we asked the chief if freezing these positions would impact the City’s Fire rating and he said no.  Therefore although we again would like to increase our number of firemen, we must budget for the force we have in these times.
Based on the presentation by the public works director, the City  has an additional $600,000 of unfilled, currently vacant position. We propose freezing those positions. Significantly, thePublic Works department will still have $120,000  of room to fill some positions.  More importantly, if the public works department functions in the manner we believe it can under the leadership of Director Powell, the city will be in a better position later in the year and may be able to revise the department’s  budget.

Savings from freezing additional positions in Fire, JPD, and Public Works: Total = $2,018,197.96.

4. We must cut costs in City Hall. After hearing the department heads make their presentations and reviewing the staffing levels, we must unfortunately accept that we are top heavy in the City.  Therefore, the Council proposes reducing the budget for the Office of Constituent Services, the Clerk’s Office, and the Chief Administrative Officer by 486,000.  More specifically, the Council proposes reducing the Clerk’s Office salary line by $200,000 from its 2015 budget, the Office of Constituent Services should be reduced by $200,000 from its proposed budget of $469,742, and the Chief Administrative Office should reduce its budget by $86,000. 

The Council has decided that it will reach this cut through a combination of freezing positions and terminations, this is not something we enjoy but a few cuts at the top of the organization chart are what we need to save the people who really keep Jackson working.  Likewise, if the mayor is willing to cut his salary 5%, the Council  is willing to pitch in too, thus saving $8,250.

Savings from additional cuts to Clerk’s Office, Constituent Services, and Chief Administrative office: $200,000 + $200,000 + 86,000 +8,250 = $494,250

5. We must cut costs associated with municipal court.  Right now, there are $120,000 worth of budgeted, but unfilled positions at the municipal court.  We propose freezing those positions.

Freeze Vacancies at Municipal Court = $120,000

6. In these tight financial times, we have to cut the costs we spend on outside consultants and studies.  During the budget hearings, the Department of Planning requested 175,000 to hire outside consultants to do two studies. A comprehensive plan for $150,000 and an operations study for $25,000.  We can’t afford either right now.  Therefore the Council proposes cutting $115,000 in other professional services from the Planning Department’s Budget.

Cut Other Professional Services from Planning Department = $115,000

7. In addition to cutting back on outside consultants, we have to cut back on other expenses such as computer software and equipment.  The office of information technology has requested  $2,460,203 for computer software, other professional services, and data processing equipment.  The council has identified several projects that are not essential in these difficult times and so we propose cutting this amount $1,200,000.

 Cut to computer software, other professional services, and data processing equipment = $1,200,000.

8. The City must cut what it spends on travel.  The Council proposes several cuts to travel, dues, and memberships and dues, etc., for itself, the administration, and the clerk’s office totaling $37,434.  We also propose an additional $58,000 cut in travel from all other departments in the City.

Elected Official and Staff Travel Cuts = $37,434 +$58,000 = $95,434

9. In recent weeks, the Council has approved a number of contracts on an expedited basis because we knew that they would result in cuts to our budget.  One of those contracts is for a company called medical analysis to do our drug testing for free.  The second contract was for a company to take over senior transit for us.  During budget hearing we asked whether the contracts had been properly accounted for yet and we were told that they were not reflected yet despite being certain savings. If the value of these contracts is recognized we can cut $87,000 from our budget for drug testing and $100,000 for senior transit.

Cut from Contract Savings = $187,000

In total, this proposal cuts  $7,640,858.96 from the mayor's proposed budget without sacrificing our commitment to public safety, without mass layoffs, and without hurting our ability to do the city’s work.


Anonymous said...

City Council takes the heat on cuts and Mayor doesn't raise taxes, sounds good to me. What would be the hesitation in not adopting this plan?

Anonymous said...

Cutting next years budget sounds great. But where is the comparison to last year's budget. Without that comparison we could be looking at no actual cuts to an actual operating budget.

Anonymous said...

I find it appalling that Yarber's team knew LAST year that this budget crisis was going to happen, by using $15 million in one time money to balance the budget.

They drew down reserves last year and, oops, no reserves this year? I guess he thinks nobody will notice that his staff is so incompetent that they couldn't plan ahead, given a whole year's notice.

We need a good, basic city government, at a size that we can afford, given we already pay the highest tax rate of anybody else in the state. Downsizing the bureaucracy of city government to fit what we need and can afford is one of the most important functions of the elected mayor. Damn, Tony. You just failed that task, big time.

Stacey, can you give some remedial training to the budget office (and the mayor), because I don't think they know what they're doing - other than having fun playing political games, at taxpayer expense.

It ain't a pretty sight.

Anonymous said...

Kingfish - is the city paying for all these concerts like the rhythm and blues fest and this Bobby Rush deal at Thalia Mara? How about a FOIA request on these concerts.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS