Parental control needed over city spending plans

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, September 3, 2003

We often refer to Brookhaven’s mayor and board of aldermen asthe city fathers.

Regardless of what they’re called, it’s time for the mayor andboard to start exercising some parental control over city revenueand spending plans.

The city remains in good financial shape, but continued use ofcarryover money year after year threatens that status. The problemis that carryover money, basically, is being used to maintain thestatus quo.

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The proposed budget currently before aldermen absorbs an almost25 percent premium increase to continue city employees’above-average insurance plan. Carryover funds could be used tocover 3 or 5 percent pay raises for employees. Pay raise decisionshave yet to be made. If raises are given to city employees thisbudget year, we strongly urge that elected officials be excluded –especially the mayor and aldermen.

Aside from insurance and possible raises, the proposed plan haslittle money for any new spending.

Absent from the proposed budget is money for paving, newequipment and other items.

The difficulty in not addressing equipment needs is that currentmachines and vehicles get another year older and sustain anotheryear’s wear and tear. Eventually, that equipment could wind upspending more time in the shop for repairs than on the road doingits job.

Consultant and legal fees associated with the city’s annexationplan are factored in. Aldermen last week moved toward using someunbudgeted Wal-Mart bond money to help with an industrial landpurchase that has been under option for two years.

City officials are to be commended for not considering aproperty tax increase as a way of addressing city woes. Of course,that’s also a politically popular course of action to take.

Nevertheless, that means the board must accept theresponsibility of setting priorities and running the city’shousehold with the funds available. It’s a difficult task, but it’sone board members asked for when they asked for the alderman’sjob.