The City Council on Tuesday questioned the budget for the coming year that has the city spending $60.4 million while taking in revenue of $57.3 million.
“So we’re in the hole $3 million right now?” Councilman Paul Tisdale asked.
Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich said the administration expects to start the fiscal year Oct. 1 with a $5 million balance.
Even with the police and fire departments cutting close to $1 million from their budgets, “yes, we’re going to eat into that fund balance,” Gilich said.
He expects to end the fiscal year with $1.9 million left of the present $5 million fund balance.
The council is scheduled to vote on the budget Sept. 20.
Council President Robert Deming III said the five new council members elected three years ago were charged by the voters with getting spending under control.
In the less than 18 months since Gilich was elected, he said, “We went from a balanced budget to a deficit spending budget.”
Deming said hiring is a big part of the city’s budget increase.
“We shouldn’t be creating all of these positions,” he said.
Gilich said salaries and benefits make up more than 60 percent of the budget. Biloxi had to hire staff to take over management of the $355 million infrastructure contract, he said, and for the court department to satisfy a lawsuit brought against the city by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Councilman George Lawrence said the city can save close to $400,000 by changing the prescription plan to substitute less-expensive medications and to increase the co-payments for the city employees and their families.
Lawrence said the city has to educate its 600 employees to use the clinic, which doesn’t cost extra money for routine visits.
If the employees want to keep this “rich insurance,” he said, they have to help keep costs down.