Aldermen ready to OK $10.1 million budget

Published 5:00 am Thursday, August 28, 2008

Brookhaven aldermen are expected to approve the city’s $10.19million general fund budget at next week’s board meeting after apublic hearing and final work session on planned revenue andexpenditures Tuesday night.

The budget will have a few minor adjustments to figure in afteraldermen submitted their final input on expenditures during thework session. Last night’s public hearing was closed after 10minutes due to lack of citizen attendance.

Aldermen will also approve the solid waste budget as it has beenset – at $1.3 million. The water and sewer budget will come outaround $2.76 million.

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Mayor Bob Massengill said the general fund, based on the numbersthat have been plugged in, will come out about $175,000 short.However, the budget is always planned conservatively and extramoney from things like sales tax should close the gap as the yeargoes on.

“We can handle that amount,” he said.

The property tax levy for the general fund is not expected tochange. However, debt service millage has not yet been set, pendingCity Clerk Mike Jinks’ completion of the figures on that.

In final discussions, Ward Three Alderwoman Mary Wilsonrequested money to put bathrooms in at Bethel Park – a project thatshould be under way in the coming months – and at BicentennialPark.

“I’d like for the board to set money aside for restrooms, and atBicentennial too,” she said, adding that she did not want to see aportable toilet at either park.

Massengill agreed.

“I think you’re right on target there; every park should havebathrooms,” he said.

The board decided to set aside $40,000 for installation andmaintenance of restrooms at the two parks, saying that it is apossibility that grant funds will be acquired to reimburse part ofthe expenditures.

When Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell said he thought it could bedone much cheaper, Ward Four Alderwoman Shirley Estes reminded theboard that restrooms will need to be handicapped accessible.

Massengill said he’d like to see a bathroom at every park.

“I think we should also find out what they need to finish theones at Kids’ Kingdom and do that as well. I think there’s a way tomake it happen,” he said.

Aldermen also discussed an addition to the budget in order tospearhead a public awareness campaign to remind citizens ofBrookhaven and Lincoln County to spend their money locally.

“Just something to plant the seed in their head that it’s a goodidea not to take their money out of town,” said Ward Six AldermanDavid Phillips. “We could just explore different methods of gettingthe word out. That message needs to be out there all the time.”

City Attorney Joe Fernald told the board that not only should itbe a campaign for the present, but it should be a facet of thecity’s comprehensive plan in the future.

The board agreed to insert $12,000 into the budget to get theball rolling on the idea.

Fire Chief Bob Watts’ request for a training officer was notshot down, but aldermen said they would rather research furtherwhat the savings to the city would be in class fees and insuranceratings before agreeing to creating the new position.

“Will this save us money for the fire rating or for not havingto send them away to training?” Maxwell asked.

Alderman at-large Les Bumgarner said he’d also like to know howhigh on the priority list the new officer is to Watts.

Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron also asked about funds broughtin on drug seizures by the Southwest Mississippi NarcoticsEnforcement Unit, saying the expenditures seemed to outweigh therevenue brought into the city.

Fernald explained to Cameron and the other aldermen that SMNEUbrings the resources of several jurisdictions to Brookhaven, andexplained that the process was not as simple as the numbers seemedto show.

Aldermen agreed to have both Police Chief Pap Henderson andWatts come make presentations to the board about what SMNEU and afire department training officer respectively bring to the tablefor the city.

Ward Two Alderman Terry Bates brought up his previous assertionthat the Lincoln County Public Library’s board of trustees needs tohave a black member if they are going to ask the city foradditional funds each year. While the library’s board is appointedby the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors, Bates implied that hewanted assurance that the next appointee would be a black personbefore he would approve funds for the library.

Bates said he had spoken to Lincoln County Board of Supervisorspresident the Rev. Jerry Wilson about the issue.

“He said they have an opening coming up, and I’d like to havethem tell us they’re going to make a change,” Bates said.

Massengill told Bates that the city can’t control the county’sdecisions, and he was backed up by other aldermen.

“That’s a county issue, not ours,” said Estes.

Mary Wilson, the supervisor’s wife, said he had tried with noluck for several years with to get a black person appointed to thelibrary board.

Bates asked the mayor to call the library board since oftenboard members will suggest appointees then leave the appointment upto the board of supervisors. He said he’d like for the mayor tofind out what the details of the board’s plans are for the nextappointment.

“So if they tell me they’re going to agree to whoever the countyappoints, is that OK?” the mayor asked Bates.

Bates said that would be fine, saying he felt the issue is avery, very important one, and that the library board “needs tobend” to accommodate a racial mix.

“We can’t control their board through our board, though,”Bumgarner said.