One for the team
Like many cities across the country, Biloxi, Miss., has been wrestling with budget problems. So, in early September, Mayor A.J. Holloway — after trying unsuccessfully to get the city council to approve tough measures that included reducing the amount the city would pay for employees’ health benefits — cut his own salary by nearly $80,000. Holloway talked to American City & County about the results of his sacrifice.
Q: Has your voluntary pay cut moved the council to react differently to your proposed budget?
A: Well, they haven’t made any real big sacrifices, to be perfectly honest with you. They have come around on a few things. We [currently] pay the employee dependents’ hospitalization [costs] 100 percent. The idea [the council] came up with was, if the employee wanted to keep his dependent on the dental part of it, he’d pay $50 a month. There’s no real sacrifice there. That’s not going to help any. We do have three votes on a couple of [other budget proposals,] but we need one more council person to come onboard with that.
Q: What other hard choices are in store for the city? Will you have to furlough employees?
A: Well, that’s an issue that we’re talking about: furloughs. We feel that the easiest and quickest way to accomplish what we need to do is take about a 5 percent pay reduction across the board for all employees of the city [instead of furloughs.] [The council] had been talking about maybe six furlough days a week. [That] might help a little bit, but it’s not doing what we need to be doing. We’re going to have to get to a point where we have a $3 to $4 million fund balance next year. As it stands now, we’re going to have a $2 to $3 million deficit next year.
- Listen to the full podcast, “Biloxi, Miss., mayor explains why he cut his own salary,” with A.J. Holloway.