City of Hattiesburg start 2013 budget talks

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Hattiesburg City Council President Kim Bradley says the numbers for the upcoming 2013 budget have shrunk.

"84 million or 85 million is right. Back four or five years ago it was well over 100," says Bradley.

Bradley says the city's general fund will decrease slightly from $46 million to $45 million, which was well over that number in years past, and believe it or not we have Katrina to thank for the extra dollars.

"A million dollars more a year to do the paving project that we were able to do post Katrina. For three consecutive years, we spent almost $3 million a year just in road and bridge improvements, street improvements, those were general fund items," says Bradley.

Bradley mentions other money is for special projects that have nothing to do with the general fund, and there's a lot dealing with the budget that is still undecided.

"We have not determined what a mil is worth. The mil is not quite worth what it was worth last year," adds Bradley.

Bradley says there are still major things to calculate to get the final millage number like the Hattiesburg Public School District's $200,000 shortfall, the retirement fund for police and firefighters, and the unresolved issue of raises for city employees.

"My hope is that we focus more on raising. We are not going to start you at eight dollars an hour, we want to get you north of nine dollars an hour. I guess kind of float the boat a little higher, and give more to those on the entry level positions," says Bradley.

Bradley says right now there's a lot for the Hattiesburg City Council and department heads to discuss and settle on before anything is final. He says next Tuesday the council will meet with all the directors for a budget meeting and will also adopt a resolution that sets the millage for the school district.

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