City council members and the mayor plan to stay within budget in the upcoming 2018 fiscal year.
“You have to have a budget. If we don’t have a budget starting October 1, you can’t pay bills, you can’t make payroll, you can’t do anything.”
Last night, council members, the mayor, and city department heads met longer than normal to approve an operating budget of roughly $55.4 million dollars.
“We are now adding more police officers; it made our budget increase a little more than what it was last year. On the standpoint of public works, we intend to get out with our own equipment to provide paving for the citizens in their neighborhoods, their streets and blocks.”
Two weeks remain in this year’s budget, and due to unforeseen expenses, council members had to approve last-minute budget amendments.
“We had some things at Velma Young that was a cost-over. We had a cost-over with one of our downtown projects. We also spent about $450,000 on this IHOP situation on a grant we got from the federal government.”
Sales taxes make up half the city’s revenue. But Thomas says sales taxes are decreasing in Meridian due to more online shopping,
“Hopefully it stays at least where it is now. If it decreases, we will have to come back during the middle of the year to cut the budget.”
The upcoming budget is about $1.2 million less than last year’s budget. Council members told the mayor that this means less money in overtime for police and firemen.
“I talked to them about finding creative ways and more efficient ways for our departments to do what they do and still provide the services for our citizens.”
Chelsea Jones reporting Fox 30 News.