Sardis Budget

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sardis mayor, board tackle new budget

By Jason C. Mattox

The City of Sardis began work on its 2008-09 budget last Wednesday night by examining various requests made by organizations and department heads throughout the recent months. City leaders are expected to make recommendations to City Clerk Odessa Johnson during tonight’s regular board meeting.

Mayor Alvis “Rusty” Dye advised the board that he did not see the budget changing much compared to the city’s current year.

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“There’s not going to be a lot of change on the revenue end,” he said. “So I don’t expect a lot of difference in the budget from this year to next.”

Dye said the reason the meeting was called was to allow aldermen to offer input on what they want to include  in the new budget.

“Odessa spent almost three days on the budget last year, then we had to make a lot of changes,” he said. “So let’s take a close look at the requests and decide what you want to do before she prepares the budget this year.”

Dye also advised the board that he expected an increase in expenses for the coming year especially in the areas on fuel costs and utilities.

“Everything is going up,” he said. “We are keeping a close watch on the budget every year, but we don’t know what things like electricity and fuel are going to do.”

One request discussed was for a new truck in the public works department.

“These old game warden trucks have been good for us, but we really don’t need five four-wheel drive vehicles in the city,” he said. “They get awful gas mileage.”

Dye suggested that the board consider replacing a vehicle every other year.

“If we can upgrade one vehicle every other year, it will cut down on our repairs and fuel costs, especially if we can get away from the four-wheel drives,” he said.

Ward 1 Alderman Joseph “JoJo” Still suggested public works director Michael Purdy look at pre-owned trucks.

“You might be able to find a 2004 or newer model truck for next to nothing right now,” he said. “Dealers are having a hard time getting rid of big trucks and SUVs.”

On the subject of tax and utility increases for the residents, Dye said he didn’t see an immediate need.

“We have increased our water and sewer rates every year recently, and I think we are finally where we should be,” he said. “I think we can go a year without that going up.

“Our taxes are in a lot better shape than they were a couple of years ago, people are actually paying their taxes,” Dye added.

As for employee raises, the city will not offer an across the board raise, opting instead for merit raises based on superintendent evaluations.

“I know people are wondering about raises, but times are tight right now,” Still said. “There is no doubt we want to do something, we just don’t know what we can do.”

Aldermen were instructed to determine which budget requests they were interested in including this year and bring them back to the board tonight.

The city has until September 15 to adopt the budget.