- Associated Press - Friday, May 13, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Jackson officials are looking at budget cuts, after council members demanded details on city finances and the mayor suggested that the city has spent a large part of its cash reserves.

During a Thursday budget meeting, Mayor Tony Yarber proposed cutting Summer Youth Employment Program, money provided to outside agencies, non-essential purchase or travel requests and non-emergency overtime not previously approved, The Clarion-Ledger reported (http://on.thec-l.com/1Nt0DhF ).

Yarber also recommended a hiring freeze for non-essential employees.

The city is required to keep 7.5 percent of its general budget in an emergency fund. Under the current budget, the emergency fund should be about $9 million, but projections have it falling to about $1.39 million at the end of the year.

Council members had asked for budget details Monday, but Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Marshand Crisler said he had been advised by the mayor not to discuss the budget, the newspaper reported.

On Thursday, Yarber suggested the city’s reserves have been lower than they should be for nearly two years.

“They’re trying to shift blame and cover their mistakes,” Councilman Melvin Priester said after the meeting.

As recently as February, Yarber’s administration had made no mention of any deficit, council members said.

“We’ve got some very tough math problems and they’re fixable problems, but if we can’t get accurate information, we don’t know how much of a course correction to make,” Priester said.

Yarber said he plans to divert any revenue exceeding the city’s needs to the emergency reserve.

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Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com

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