WAVELAND — Waveland officials made another round of budget cuts Friday in a hastily called meeting at which 44 workers were furloughed indefinitely and officials announced a possible tax hike, among other proposals.

Last week, the city made $120,000 worth of monthly cuts, including layoffs and salary reductions toward a $180,000 monthly budget hole. Officials stopped short of disbanding the police department, but rather reduced it to eight total patrol officers and no investigators. A special meeting was called Friday morning after officials recently consulted the state auditor’s office for advice about the city’s financial troubles. Mayor David Garcia, who took office in 2010, said Friday he “inherited a mess” and that the cuts have been tough, but are part of being a “CEO” of a city.

“If you don’t feel it, you’re not human,” Garcia said.

On Friday the board placed about 44 city workers on indefinite furlough, which could last until Oct. 1, and the city will work with a “skeleton crew” of about 20 to serve its 3,500 residents. The plan would leave one police officer and one firefighter on duty per shift, with some volunteers filling in the gaps.

The Board of Aldermen voted Friday to rescind their own salaries for the remainder of the fiscal year, which runs until Sept. 30. Last week, the board instituted a pay cut of 10 percent for itself, the mayor, city attorney, comptroller and other employees in the administration. On Friday, those officials were given an additional 5 percent pay cut, and city workers who had been spared from the first 10 percent cut last week were given the full 15 percent cut.

While aldermen were discussing eliminating their own salaries, Garcia said he and the others in the mayor’s office couldn’t afford another cut. The mayor said he had a child in college and added he had already taken about $20,000 worth of salary cuts since being elected. He said other members of his staff had also seen significant cuts already.

“I’m down to my bare minimum now,” Garcia said.

Full story: Sunherald.com
8/27/11