The $600,000 Question

Someone has a way of getting my attention. I went outside to enjoy the day before it got too hot and on my patio was a large, manilla envelope. When I opened it, guess what it contained? A print out of the City of Lumberton's budget. For the purpose of this blog post, I am making reference to a public document. Since I'm under attack for expressing my first amendment rights I felt the need to disclose that fact. This process is causing me more anxiety than I expected but if it gets worse, I'll step back for a moment. For now, let me flex my creative license and re-purpose the lyrics to Carley Simon's "You're So Vain" because I'm sure at least one reader think this blog is about them. Don't you! Don't you! Don't you! Now that we've gotten that out the way, where was I? Oh yes, the itemized budget report. Not the generic budget that they give out in September but a budget with an actual breakdown of what the board have access to every month. Again, I'm glad it's public record. I made a couple of calls and verified that it was the actual City of Lumberton budget. After looking through the pages, I got an understanding of how money is being spent but what I didn't understand was how the mayor and board members could claim, month after month, they didn't know what was in the budget when it's right there in black and white.

At the last board meeting, Alderwoman Cora Rogers was one of the first board members to cry that they couldn't hire any additional police officers because they didn't know what was in the budget. Aldermen Jay McGraw and Quincy Rogers were pushing to hire officers because the city is not equipped with adequate police protection. They also stressed that the shooting incident was just a sign of things to come unless some tough decisions were made. Needless to say, the mayor and other board members were not moved by the shooting incident to approve adequate police protection. It wasn't until I looked over the budget, thought about what was said and looked over the agenda that I realized I was missing the forrest for the trees. Every time there's a motion to hire police officers the standard response is we don't know what's in the budget. Last month, Cora Rogers tried to explain why she was against hiring more police. She gave this cock and bull story about not wanting to put her bond at risk. Let's analyze that stance. At the beginning of the meeting, most board members declared they didn't know if there was enough money in the budget to hire part time police officers. During that same meeting, they voted to pay $41,448.13 from the general fund for unpaid claims and another $19,789.75 from the general fund for paid claims for a total of $61,237.98 from a budget they're not sure about. So the board has enough confidence to approve payments over $60,000 but don't want to risk their bonds to pay part time police officers $10.50/hour.

If that's not enough, look at the picture from the budget left on my patio. It's a snapshot from the general fund budget. In case you didn't know, the police officers are paid from the general fund and the money they collect is deposited into the general fund account. If you would look at line 000-212 General Sales Tax. Well, the budget projected that $155,000 would be collected. Look at the middle column and it shows the actual amount collected was $329,244.88 with an overage of $184,244.88. Every month, the mayor is proclaming that the city is broke but tens of thousands are spent from the general fund every month without concern about the status of their bonds. As far as we know, there's never been a check returned or payroll check declined due to insufficient funds, so there's apparently money available but not for the police department. It seems there's money for security camers, installation of security cameras, and money available for the MML Conference (which includes registration fees, mileage, hotel accommodations and per diem). But they can't approve $10.50/hour for part time police officers.

Keep in mind, attending every MML Conference is not required. But hey, they landed embattled former city manager Richard Rose at the last meeting but it cost the city an additional $1,600 that was never budgeted. I can't wait to see who they'll find at the bar during the Summer session of the MML Conference. Sarcasm intended. Unless I'm reading this public record incorrectly. Was this the public record used by Winston and McGraw to show that Lumberton was fiscally stable enough to repay a $600,000 loan? Nah, couldn't be. I remember Winston saying they had access to the budget in Jackson on their computer and they, whoever that may be, pulled it up. Anywho, at this point, it's pure conjecture and I'm certain that our trusted elected officials wouldn't finagle a report to deceive anyone. Again, sarcasm intended. Whatever the case may be, according to the public records that shows they were printed on 5/14/2015, money is available. The $600,000 question is where did the money come from and why is it being hidden?

Comments

  1. I wish I could have seen Jabber Jaws face when she logged on your blog today. You should have posted earlier so she couldn't enjoy her lunch.

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  2. Let me get this straight. Assessments are not getting paid, the Fuel-man cards were having a "glitch" last week, there's money in the general fund for meetings but not police. No wonder Merlene is suing you. You're revealing to many of their secrets.

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  3. Now who trust these backstabbing, lying ?????

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  4. Why would you have these people working for your City?

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  5. Ben Winston is a man of God? I would hate to see Satan. I haven't seen no good thing this man has done.

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  6. Ben Winston sat there in the meetings and ask do we have any money in the budget for this or that and lie and he is a man of God? I understand Tommy and the others who are unsaved but the man of God?

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  7. So who prepared the Budget? Who know not Merlene.

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    Replies
    1. They paid Richard Rose to prepare the budget they printed in the paper. This budget year is almost over and the board is still asking what's in the budget?

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  8. Put your Trust no man not even the man of God!!!!!

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  9. It troubles me that when drive through the Love Quarter's community and I see all those Help Ben Win signs. This is where Ben lives and when he was supervisor he did nothing for this community but they're supporting him because he's black. I was shocked to see a sign in Henry Jeffetson's yard supporting Ben and Ben was at the board meeting trying to stop Henry's daughter from opening a nail shop. The utter stupidity. I wouldn't dare support a man that was trying to take food from my child's table.

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    Replies
    1. I decided to go to Little Black Creek today and noticed Pops Chad Owen had a big ole Help Ben Win sign on his property. I guess he won him over with his Satirday prayers on tbe corner. I guess these Christians don't read Matt. 6:5. I guess I'll be getting my watermelons and produce in a Purvis. Can't support hypocrites. I also see there's a Help Ben Win sign in Robert Holder's yard, son of former Mayor, Miriam Holder. What is Ben promising these people? Do they not see what he's doing to this city. Now I see why you can't get people to the board meetings. They're Ben Winston supporters and they don't want to see the truth. The videos speak for themselves. This city will never grow with people like this.

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    2. People have the right to support any candidate they choose. It's part of their rights to Freedom of Speech. If you don't like it support the other candidate.

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  10. I'm glad I was able to catch you yesterday before you left the library. Thanks for the copy of the budget. I think you should leave a copy at the library and people can pay to have one printed for 10 cents a page. I was looking over the budget and I see Merlene makes more than the Chief and the Chief has been here longer. I didn't see Danny Davis salary. Why wasn't it in the budget? Do you know if Strphanie picked up her copy? I would love to hear her input on this budget. I guess I'll continue reading over the weekend. Thanks again for sharing.

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