Decatur city makes budget cuts up to $3.9 million due to coronavirus

City leaders say decreases in sales, lodging and gas taxes are why they'll be making cuts with a proposed $65 million budget for the next fiscal year.

Posted: Sep 2, 2020 9:30 PM
Updated: Sep 3, 2020 12:15 AM

We're learning what the city of Decatur plans to do now that it is facing almost a $4 million loss due to the impact of Coronavirus.

City leaders say decreases in sales, lodging and gas taxes are why they'll be making cuts with a proposed $65 million budget for the next fiscal year.

Decatur's Chief Financial Officer tells WAAY 31's Casey Albritton there are three main areas where money will be cut: travel, training for city employees and new city vehicles won't be purchased unless absolutely necessary, all due to Coronavirus

"I've heard a lot of bad stories about others. I had a friend down the street who had to close up her shop," said business owner, Lynsey Staggs.

Lynsey Staggs owns a shop in downtown Decatur called Urban Atlas and says local businesses in the area have lost a lot of money during the pandemic.

"I also have meditation classes, things like that, so those have definitely had to be on halt," said Staggs.

Decatur City leaders say business isn't the only thing being impacted. The city has lost money due to a lack of travel and lodging revenue in the city.

"As we go into the Fall and Winter, we don't know what the virus might do," said Decatur Mayor, Tab Bowling.

"2020 has been a difficult year. 2021 is just going to be a carry over of the same risks that were involved: a potential shut down, loss of revenue, items like that, so we just have to be more careful," said City Financial Officer, John Andrzejewski.

The city says when it comes to the next budget, money won't be spent on new equipment such as laptops for city employees, any employee trainings or new police cars, unless it's absolutely necessary.

"We want to make sure we fund needed vehicles, not just police but for all departments," said Bowling.

City Financial Officer, John Andrzejewski, says the city will probably see a 25% decrease next year in business license revenue because of the pandemic. Business licenses are based on a local business's revenue from the year before.

"It's been heartbreaking to watch and also scary," said Staggs.

Staggs says she's noticed how much local stores have suffered this year, and city officials say if business improves, they can re-evaluate the city's budget.

"It's a little scary, i'm a little nervous, but i'm super hopeful that the people who have supported me this far continue to do so," said Staggs.

"People just have to weigh their options and support local business and we will all get through it," said Andrzejewski.

Decatur City Council members are expected to vote on the proposed $65 million budget over the next two weeks.

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