Furloughs not the only strategy to tackle budget woes - WLBT.com - Jackson, MS

Furloughs not the only strategy to tackle budget woes

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT

A budget deficit in the city of Jackson could result in furloughs for most city employees. It's one of several ways the Capital City could be impacted as administrators work to balance the budget, which has to be completed by mid-September.

But these furloughs -- which start Oct. 16 -- are just the tip of the iceberg as far as what's being proposed to help erase a $15 million revenue deficit.

Jackson communications director Shelia Byrd issued a statement Friday, detailing what changes would take place in the Capital City once furloughs begin October 16.

"This was not an easy decision. However, we recognize that other municipalities have implemented furloughs as a means of closing budget gaps," said Byrd. 

Byrd said, after considering a number of options, the mayor's office decided to propose a furlough on Fridays -- every four weeks -- for the rest of Mayor Tony Yarber's term.

That's not all, though.

The blog Jackson Jambalaya obtained a memo from the city's director of finance and administration, which contained recommendations for the FY 2016 budget.

The document details a property tax increase of 8 percent, meaning someone with a $100,000 home would pay an extra $51.10 a year in taxes.

A hiring freeze for non-essential/non-emergency positions and no capital purchases in the budget for automobiles or heavy equipment for the city were also mentioned as ways to trim the fat.

And then, of course, the furloughs involving full-time city employees.

"We understand that there have been several factors contributing to our current budget situation. It did not happen overnight, said Byrd in the statement. "It is the result of declining revenue; budget practices that did not ensure viability, such as using the city’s cash reserve to balance the budget, and adhering to fee policies that do not reflect the economics of the day." 

Here's who they won't affect: Part-time employees who work 30 hours or less, dispatchers, police officers at the rank of sergeant and below, and firefighters at the level of district chief and below.

High-level Jackson police command staff will be furloughed on those days, though, according to a source within the police department.

As a whole, city operations and services will be shut down on those days, except police and fire.

At the request of the City Council, no council staff or city clerk's office staff will be furloughed.

City Councilman Melvin Priester Jr. said he plans to discuss this proposal with the mayor on Monday during a city budget meeting.

"The City Council looks forward to giving the mayor the opportunity to present why he thinks it's necessary and why he thinks there are no better options for the people of Jackson, and our employees and the taxpayers," Priester said.

Priester adds that he wants to know the city has exhausted all options before pursuing the furloughs.

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