Mayor Harvey Johnson announces proposed city budget

August 20, 2009 in News

Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson presented his proposal for the city’s $359.5 million budget Wednesday at City Hall. This budget reflects a 0.2 percent decrease from the current year’s budget.

Johnson said the proposed budget includes no tax increase to the citizens of Jackson; however ways for increased revenue are being explored.

“It is important that we remember that the city of Jackson is comprised of dedicated public services, who are increasingly being asked for more with less,” said Johnson.

Although realizing that city employees need a pay raise, Johnson said the city’s resources “just don’t allow it.”

Johnson said after carefully reviewing the budgets of every department, it was realized that this would be a “very lean year ahead of us.”

“We will live within our means,” Johnson said.

One of the steps that was taken in order to make this budget possible was the freezing of unfilled positions unless in dire need.

“Unfilled positions were frozen with the exception of absolutely essential public works staff and such needed positions in other departments,” said Johnson.

Johnson said the city is weathering serious financial issues such as decreased sales tax revenue, the increasing cost of health care insurance and repayment of the $26 million bond issue that went toward street repaving.

“In this budget, employees are paying only 39 percent of the cost of their insurance premiums and the general fund is picking up 61 percent,” said Johnson. “This is a significant difference of the shared cost that employees have been expected to pay in the past.”

Johnson also added that they are establishing a Capital City Revenue fund to receive voluntary contributions from tax-exempt entities in the city, and invited the state government to contribute.

The fund has already had a major contribution.

“The beginning of this fund, I’m happy to say, is a $200,000 contribution from the University of Mississippi Medical Center to help with fire protection,” said Johnson.

Another venture in the works is a system that will allow citizens to keep record and pay their utility bills online.

“We’re not out of the woods yet, but we intend to get out of the woods,” said Johnson.

The City Council’s budget committee was scheduled to meet to discuss the proposal during a meeting Wednesday, August 19 in Council Chambers at City Hall. The council must approve a budget by Sept. 15. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.