RIDGELAND — The Mayor and Board of Aldermen began hearing from department heads last week concerning the upcoming 2018 fiscal year and budget requests.

Park Director Chris Chance specifically expressed concerns with fundraising over sponsors for the events held in Ridgeland. He said he has around 40 regular sponsors, but said recruitment has taken a hit since the person who was in charge of it recently left.

Mayor Gene McGee suggested talking to the Ridgeland Chamber of Commerce.

“We have something like 800 Chamber members so I think we can get those numbers up,” McGee said.

Alderman At large D.I. Smith said he would be willing to consider “hiring a consultant.” McGee agreed that that was something he would be willing to “look at.”

Chance reported that he is “blessed” with a staff that cares for the local parks and ball fields.

“I would say we have the most in-demand fields in the state. We really only get beaten out for tournaments by places with more fields, but never because anyone has better facilities than we offer,” Chance said.

McGee echoed that sentiment and thanked Chance for the work he and his team do to keep the city competitive in that regard.

Chance said characteristics of his budget include a plan that rotates roughly every 12 years for the 12 vehicles his department has.

“We usually have a twelve-year truck, an eleven-year truck and so on and try to prioritize replacing the oldest one,” Chance said.

He said he also sees an end of the summer bump in expenditures for fall sports maintenance that accounts for a large balance still in his 2017 budget.

“We will be buying a lot of fertilizer coming up,” Chance said.

Outside of predicted expenditures like asphalt for roads for the Public Works Department, director Mike McCollum said that they had been dealing with a “little beaver problem.”

Alderman Smith recommended that before he budget that in he check with the county to see if they offered any alternatives.

“I believe the county pays into a national program that should be available to anyone in the county,” Smith said.

All presenters, including Community Development Director Alan Hart, said that despite some specifically noted project and items they did not foresee having come back to ask for more money unless there was a dramatic rise in fuel costs.

City officials are expected to meet at least two more times before Sept. 5 concerning the budget and hope to have a final budget available for public comment by then.