Holloway vetoes budget, cites employee spending plans

Mayor A.J. Holloway this afternoon vetoed the municipal budget passed by the City Council, citing “exorbitant” spending in employee compensation and longevity pay in the budget, which was to take effect Oct. 1.

In his veto message to council members, Holloway noted that the city provided $4,600 across-the-board pay increases for employees last year and that the city continues to completely fund health insurance for employees and their families. He said he thought another $1,600 across-the-board increase and doubling the longevity pay, from $6 a month to $15 a month, would be “reckless, irresponsible, and unconscionable in this uncertain economic environment.”

Although the council has approved the overall budget, two key components – employee compensation and longevity pay – are not scheduled to be voted on until the council’s Sept. 23 meeting, and Holloway vowed to veto those two measures if they reach his desk in their current form.

The increases — which would cost Biloxi taxpayers about $2.2 million annually, a figure Holloway noted would grow each year – include a longevity bump that would see most employees receiving lump sum payments ranging up to $7,275 the first week in December.

“I appreciate the dedication of our employees and directors,” Holloway wrote in his veto message, “but I cannot in good conscience approve these latest pay measures.”

Holloway, instead, offered a compromise: a 2½ percent across-the-board increase in compensation and increasing the longevity pay from $6 to $9 a month.

Said the mayor: “These proposals would save the city more than $516,000 on compensation and more than $465,000 on longevity pay, saving taxpayers nearly a million dollars off the council’s proposal. I think this is a more plausible increase in pay and longevity.”

Read the veto message for yourself

To see Mayor A.J. Holloway’s veto message, delivered to members of the City Council this afternoon,
click here.