Hattiesburg adjusts budget after tornado

Hattiesburg adjusts budget after tornado

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Hattiesburg is adjusting its budget, but even with some big spending, the city is set to end the year with more money.

City council members approved budget adjustments Tuesday that include tornado clean up expenses that are costing the city $421,295, but it won't be paying for repairs in the long run.

"As far FEMA goes, we learned this in Katrina, you have to spend the money first," said Kim Bradley, Ward 1 councilman. "You have to make the repairs first, and then the money is refunded back to the city or rebated back to the city. So we have spent a lot of money."

Several city departments needed adjustments, with $310,00 spent on street repairs alone. Chief Financial officer Sharon Waits said as of Tuesday, she's expecting at least $402,000 of the total amount spent to be federally refunded.

"This is not by any means a comprehensive number," Waits said. "This is just a minimum amount that I'm confident that we will receive."

Council members also approved $112,950 to be spent on 17 air pack harnesses and 24 carbon filters for firefighters.

"They're not used all the time, and hopefully not often, but when they are, they need to work," Bradley said. "They need to be certified, and what we have was not. That's just unacceptable."

Waits' adjustment projects the city will increase its ending cash balance by a little more than $1 million because of the projected $402,000 federal reimbursement and $500,000 collected in ad valorem taxes in December. Even with the additional expenses, the city's still projected to have a higher amended ending cash balance.