Budget discussion continues at city council meeting

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - As in-depth budget talks continue, the Meridian City Council and the city administration are still trying to find ways to offset a nearly one million dollar revenue shortfall. One possibility is raising property taxes.

“The problem right now is we have a gap right now in our budget. We haven't had a tax increase since 2008 and we have to continue to provide services that are high level of what's expected for our citizens,” says Mayor Percy Bland.

Ward 3 Councilwoman Fannie Johnson says raising taxes would be a last-resort option.

“We want to be good stewards of their money. We want to be mindful of how were spending their money. We want to cut wherever we can cut. So at the end of the day when I come to vote, then that's the only way I can figure out how to run the city safely and operationally for all the citizens to be safe and have a quality of life,” says Johnson.

Bland says staff cuts might not be possible.

"We have cut a lot of unfilled positions in the last couple years. We have streamlined a lot of our departments," Bland said. "We have people doing multiple job roles and multiple duties and we have cut back as much as we possibly can."

Johnson says the city could save money if it no longer funded the Lakeview Golf Course.

"When you look at it, basically, it's only probably about 150 people using it. So for us to be using that amount of money for something that's not being used by the majority, after all, we're a democracy. It's supposed to be about the majority a lot of times," Johnson said. "You're looking at spending the bigger piece of the pie on what's being used by less of the population."

The new fiscal year budget must be passed by the end of the month, because FY 2020 starts Oct. 1.