May 18, 2018 10:52:51 AM
In city government, budget surprises are rarely good news.
There are exceptions, however, including a budget surprise that will allow the city to continue its summer jobs program this year.
A month ago, City Planner George Irby, who administers the program which provides summer jobs for 20 high school and college students, said he hoped to raise private funds to run the program this summer.
Until two years ago, the Mississippi Department of Transportation provided a $35,000 grant to fund the program. When MDOT dropped the program last year, an anonymous donor stepped forward to fund the program.
In April, Irby said he hoped to fund this year's program by soliciting donations from citizens. He said he would know if enough money was raised to fund this year's program by mid-May.
As it turned out, those efforts weren't needed.
"Milton (Rawle, the city's chief financial officer), told me there was $35,000 in the budget for the program," Irby said. "I wasn't aware of it."
Irby said he is currently going through applications and will conduct interviews on Wednesday.
"The students will start work on June 1," said Irby, who said the city is still trying to specify how the students will be used.
He said some students will work on the city's public works department while others will be assigned to other projects, although those details haven't been finalized.
Students work 20 hours per week at $7.50 per hour.
Meanwhile, the Lowndes County summer jobs program will begin Monday.
"We have 12 kids in the program, six from each side of the (Tombigbee) river," said county road manager Ronnie Burns. "Some of them will start Monday and some others will start later, based on when their schools get out."
The county's program provides a 40-hour per week job at $10 per hour and will last 12 weeks. All of the students work in the road department.
"They work just like our regular workers," Burns said. "It's turned out really well. For the kids, it's a good job. For us, they're turned out to be really good workers. It's a great program."
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]
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