Meridian Mayor Proposes Budget Plan

Meridian, Miss. Meridian Mayor Percy Bland is ready to propose a budget to the council with no tax increases.

"We have provided a proposed 2013-2014 budget, a balanced budget, with no tax increases," Mayor Bland said at a news conference Wednesday.

The mayor proposed a set budget at $34,805,000, which is an increase of just over 2 percent.

"There's some things that some department heads did not get, but we had to make some tough decisions," Bland said.

One controversial item on the agenda was an almost $10,000 salary increase Bland had previously proposed for both the newly-appointed community development director and police chief, as well as an $85,000 salary for the newly re-instated position of homeland security director.

"But if you look at total salaries, just straight salaries, they increase by .05 percent," Mayor Bland explained.

Those salaries see an increase of over $6,000. However, other salaries see a big jump. Temporary salaries would see more than a 20 percent increase. And overtime salaries would be raised by over 18 percent. Mayor Bland said cuts had to be made.

"A lot of the major cuts were big expenses with major purchases of equipment," Bland said.

Contractual services and supplies were where the cuts were made. The mayor is still waiting on values from the county tax assessor's office as well as a decision on the major medical plan, but he says he still feels confident they will be able to provide a balanced budget.

"Even with any adjustments that may be made with that major medical plan, we still feel confident we're going to be able to give them a balanced budget with no tax increases."

The proposal must go through the City Council before it can be approved.