- Associated Press - Friday, December 19, 2014

PURVIS, Miss. (AP) - Lumberton could be a city without a cash flow within the next few weeks.

When that happens, officials say it likely will be a city without its own police, forced to call on the Lamar County Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement.

The Hattiesburg American reports (https://hatne.ws/1CaLh76) Mayor Ben Winston painted a grim picture before Lamar County supervisors Thursday.

“Our financial situation in Lumberton is such that we’re going to run out of money,” Winston said. “In fact, we’re at that door right now.

“If we come to a place where we cannot fund the police department - and that’s primarily what we’re looking at because police comes out of the general fund, and that’s where our biggest challenge is, the general fund - I want to know what y’all are going to do when we shut it down because it is not a matter of if we do, but when we do.”

Winston said the city would have only $2,000 on hand after paying its bills this month. More ominous: Winston said the city’s main revenue stream, its sales tax revenue, could be commandeered to pay down about $150,000 overdue on a loan from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

“If they take the sales tax, immediately, we will be unable to fund the police department,” he said.

Lumberton has struggled the past few years with its finances and record-keeping. The city had issues trying to create a budget for 2014-15, in part, because it could not determine how much money it could expect because of scant past financial information.

In its projected 2014-15 budget, expenses for the police department were estimated at about $257,000, or about $21,400 a month.

The police had been caught in the middle as the largest expense from general fund money. Cuts were made to personnel, then partially restored.

Currently, the department consists of Chief Elsie Cowart and three full-time officers.

No formal request for aid was made by the City of Lumberton at Thursday’s meeting, and supervisors took no action.


Information from: The Hattiesburg American, https://www.hattiesburgamerican.com

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