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Alderman discuss the budget
from Staff Reports - NEWS
September 12, 2018 -

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. – The Board of Aldermen’s proposed budget for running the city in the coming year does not include a tax increase for boosting Natchez police officers’ pay and purchasing a fire-ladder truck that city officials say are essential for combating crime and fires.

The budget that aldermen are preparing to approve this week totals $35.5 million to spend in the new fiscal year that begins October. That’s about the same amount as what the board budgeted in 2017 for the fiscal year nearing its close.

Of the total expenditures, the new budget shows about $15.6 million in the general fund for the city’s day-to-day operations. That’s up from the $15 million allocated for the current year and about $1.6 million more than what was spent in 2017 for general expenses.

The planned salary increases for Natchez police has the pay rising to $15.50 per hour for entry-level officers. Low pay has crippled the Natchez Police Department’s abilities to attract people to work there, according to city officials.

This will be the second year in a row the board has increased NPD pay. Aldermen increased property taxes last year to give Natchez police officers and fire fighters pay raises. This year’s pay increase is just for police. Money for this is coming from not filling vacant NPD positions.

Former city clerk Megan Edmonds, who resigned last month but continues to assist preparing the new budget, said various financial factors have provided “extra money to work with.”

For the Natchez Fire Department, the board is planning to purchase a fire-ladder truck. The one now used is 26 years old and substandard. A new truck is essential to ensure the city can adequately fight fires and restrain property insurance costs for homeowners, said Mayor Darryl Grennell. Plans are for the new fire engine to be purchased at a cost close to $1 million to be financed by a loan.

After holding public hearings on the proposed budget last Friday and Tuesday, the Board of Aldermen is scheduled to approve the budget on Friday for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

Alderman Dan Dillard said he’s “proud” to give much-needed pay raises to police officers, and he’ll consider giving more to Natchez firefighters and other city employees later if funds are available. Dillard also noted city officials are “getting a better grip” on correcting accounting snafus and budget shortages that have plagued City Hall in recent years. | © 2014 | All Rights Reserved
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