Guntown battens down in tough times

GUNTOWN – Even though the town’s budget has been “cut to the bone,” Guntown Mayor Robert Herring says he will not raise taxes.
Herring, who was elected in June, is dealing with a tight financial situation that will require freezing wages and hiring.
The 2010 budget will be $953,779, an increase from 2009’s number of $762,000, but in most categories is virtually the same as last year’s. The difference comes from some one-time bills and grants that had to be paid.
Herring said he knew that being mayor wasn’t going to be easy, but he didn’t expect it to be this difficult.
“We’ve cut the budget to the bone,” he said. “There will be no new employee hires and no raises for anyone next year. We are trying to do everything to keep from raising taxes on the people because they have enough expenses.
“For a town our size, it’s important for us not to overspend so the citizens don’t suffer. We’re in for a tough year, but we are confident that we’ll come out of it just fine.”
In 2009, the town was in the red $114,000, something that Herring said he’s going to try to avoid next year.
Most of the money is being spent in sewer and water, and Herring said those departments are running in the red this year.
“We have to have a good sewer and water system,” said Herring. “General expenses and the upkeep of the wells are expensive. But that is just something that we’ll have to deal with because the town can’t do without it.”
A 60-home subdivision is in the works in Guntown and Herring said sewer improvements will have to be made before that takes place.
Despite going through a tough financial year, Herring said a lot of good has come about these past three months.
“We’ve been renovating our community center, we’ve teamed up with the sheriff’s department and other agencies to make some key drug arrests, and our Christmas parade is going to be fantastic this year,” Herring said.
“Times are hard from a financial standpoint, but we’re doing everything we can to make sure that the standard of living is still very high in Guntown.”

Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.

Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal