Council president expects Hattiesburg budget to pass

Published: Sep. 24, 2015 at 11:18 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 24, 2015 at 11:20 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The city of Hattiesburg has less than one week to approve a budget for the next fiscal year, but the city council president expects the budget to pass next week.

A deeper look of the capital requests in the city's budget show the following:

  • $5,000: drapes for mayor's office
  • $6,000: carpet for mayor's office and conference room
  • $15,000: golf cart for transporting employees downtown
  • $70,000: increase in contributions to the Area Development Partnership

Council President Kim Bradley defended each of those items, explaining their reason for being in the budget.

"The purpose for that (golf cart) is we are going to move that court building in the old federal building next to City Hall, and there's no parking around it," he said.

Bradley also said he "could understand" Mayor Johnny DuPree wanting to update his office by purchasing drapes and carpet.

"That's not a problem," Bradley said.

The mayor's office said each department is budgeted for renovations, and their office is using the money incrementally.

Bradley explained the city was joining Forrest and Lamar counties in increasing their ADP contributions to individual totals of $200,000.

Each council member, excluding Ward 2 Councilwoman Deborah Delgado, submitted a joint letter of proposed budget amendments Tuesday, which included the following:

  • full removal of funding for Chain Park amphitheater
  • removal of remaining $22,000 for Twin Forks Rising project
  • closing five vacant positions to return money to general fund, including two community development specialists in sanitation; a crew foreman in traffic; and a facility maintenance repair worker in construction
  • closing three-part time positions to return money to general fund, including facility maintenance repair; and two accountants.

The letter explained the five positions listed were still posted, although they were vacant for more than 90 days. Bradley said the HAVPAY ordinance requires positions that go unfilled for that amount of time must close, and the money goes to the general fund. If a department director wants that position opened again, he or she would consult the council for approval.

Bradley expects the budget to be approved next week. The deadline is Oct. 1.

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