Yazoo City Police Chief Eric Snow says he should have 20 officers on his force, but he says right now there are only 14 patrolling the streets.
Chief Snow says the city can't afford to pay officers competitive wages, and because of that, he says his department has basically become a training ground. He tells us officers stay for a year or two then apply for a job at the Yazoo City Federal Correctional Complex to make more money.
"We're proud of them to do that," says the city's Ward 2 Alderman, Dr. Jack Varner. "But they're doing it at our expense right now."
Dr. Varner says an entry-level Yazoo City Police Officer makes about $26,000, and he says that number hasn't changed for almost a decade.
"Pretty rough going the last 10 years," says Chief Snow.
"We had to cut across-the-board 10%. Mayor, all the way down to the street sweeper," says Dr. Varner.
But help, according to the Alderman, is on the way.
"Should give us a great sales tax economic boom," says Dr. Varner.
He's talking about a new development already in the works in the northern part of the city. Dr. Varner says it will be a 1.6 mile retail boulevard connecting Highway 49 to the prison.
"Within 12 months, we should have the street completed and new businesses on the north end," he says. "That will raise that sales tax. At that time, we will put the 10% back on the people, on our employees."
A Hampton Inn hotel is already up in the new development area, and business there is good, according to Dr. Varner. He says the city hopes to break ground on the new road in November to attract more businesses.
"That whole street will be on a commercial basis," he says. "And we look forward. We've had inquiries through our Chamber of Commerce for several related businesses to come, be put up there."
That's all at least a year a way. Dr. Varner says Chief Snow should not expect more money in next year's budget.
"The same they saw this year. We have no new income," explains Dr. Varner. "Snow's a good man. He can do it."
Dr. Varner tells us one big, national retailer has already committed to move to the new boulevard. He wouldn't say which retailer, but he did hint that there's not one in the area right now.
Chief Snow also says he has a great group of officers working for the department and plenty of interest from young officers wanting to fill the vacant positions.
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