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Mayor to veto city's budget

By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
Sept. 26, 2002
Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith said Wednesday he will veto the city's $86 million budget councilmen approved last week because it didn't include a water rate increase.
Smith will ask councilmen on Monday one day before the start of the new fiscal year to approve a water rate increase that would affect residents who use more than 2,000 gallons a month.
Without the money, the mayor said, Meridian's budget would be out of balance, threaten the city's credit rating and require budget cuts within the water department.
Special meeting
The mayor originally scheduled a special council meeting on Friday to discuss the budget. That meeting was moved to 9 a.m. Monday after the mayor learned some councilmen would be absent.
Ward 2 Councilman Mary Perry, who serves as council president, said she expects the council to amend the budget and include a water rate increase that would affect some city residents.
That plan would raise rates 8 percent for residents who use more than 2,000 gallons of water each month. If they don't use 2,000 gallons of water, water rates would remain unchanged.
The proposed increase also would not affect people living in public housing regardless of how much water they use. City leaders say the increase would affect about 70 percent of Meridian residents.
Perry said the proposal is the council's best option.
Proposal considered
Councilmen Barbara Henson of Ward 3 and Bobby Smith of Ward 5, who both opposed the water rate increase last week, could not be reached for comment on the new proposal.
Ward 4 Councilman Jesse Palmer Sr., who also opposed the increase last week, said he wasn't sure how he will vote Monday,
Ward 1 Councilman George Thomas said he believes the increase is needed.
The mayor said he expects the council to "do the appropriate thing."