Jackson mayor, council members discuss furloughs for city workers

JACKSON, MS – Revenue in the city of Jackson has fallen short by about $15 million.

The financial loss has forced the city to make some tough decisions.

WJTV’s Terrance Friday reports, at a budget hearing today, the mayor formally announced plans to put city workers on furlough to make up for the costs.

The city brought in an auditor and found that a lot of spending was going towards covering salaries for city employees. The proposed furloughs would be once a month, most likely on Fridays. It’s all in hopes of balancing the budget

“As mayor, I say we will not have mass layoffs. The only option is to furlough and furlough as minimally as we can.The City of Jackson does not want to get into the business of firing people. The bulk of the money we spend is on our people,” said Jackson mayor Tony Yarber.

Mayor Yarber says it’s an uncomfortable situation, but one that he feels would be in the best interest of the city.

The furlough would not impact emergency responders, or part-time employees. The change also calls for an 8% property tax hike and increases to some city fees.

Some council members are concerned. Margaret Barrett Simon says:

“I don’t want to make decisions on the backs of the people who can least afford it. We have to be very careful and everything before we pass on A tax increase in user fees for citizens.”

“The mayor has made a bold proposal to increase taxes by 8% and still furlough city employees. Right now we’re giving the mayor a chance to make his case. Let’s be patient and give them a chance to explain why he has proposed what he is proposing,” added Melvin Priester.

The administration says it’s determined to keep its employees intact.

“I think our greatest work is going to be not having to take people’s jobs,” said Mayor Yarber.

A decision will be made on this matter until mid September. In the meantime these conversations will continue.

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