Hattiesburg council questions city budget before vote

Hattiesburg council questions city budget before vote

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg City Council is scheduled to vote on the city's budget Tuesday, but concerns were raised at a Monday agenda setting.

"This doesn't look like what we had discussed," Ward 3 Councilman Carter Carroll said.

Carroll was joined by council members Mary Dryden (Ward 4), Henry Naylor (Ward 5) and council president Kim Bradley (Ward 1) in showing public concern with the budget presented Monday.

"This is the council's budget," Bradley said. "We have a job to do, and when the administration presents the budget that the council is going to be able to approve, then we'll approve it. If they don't, then we won't have a budget approved."

Bradley said he made recommended changes to the budget last week, but he said those changes were not reflected on the budget this week. He said assistant chief financial officer Connie Everett told him to submit his changes by last week, and he said he submitted them last Tuesday. He claimed Everett told him the changes were not submitted in time.

"I was told to do it in writing, and I did, but those changes weren't made," he said. "The budget that was presented by the administration today is not a budget that the council is going to approve."

Bradley's main concern Monday was the ending cash balance, which he said should be more than two million dollars. Bradley said it was currently $1.5 million.

"In case we have a shortage of income for whatever reason, we want to have some wiggle room and not find ourselves in a bad cash position."

The council members did not give specific details about why they had concerns with the budget, although Bradley mentioned some projects, such as an amphitheater at Chain Park, that he wanted to put on hold.

The council meets Tuesday at 5 p.m. to vote on the agenda, which includes the budget for next fiscal year.

The mayor responded to Bradley's comments Tuesday morning, saying the budget did have an ending cash balance of $2 million. Click here to read his media release.