Huntsville City Council unanimously approves $236 million budget

Members of the Huntsville City Council and Mayor Tommy Battle listen to a presentation on the FY2021 budget before a vote was held on Thursday, September 24.
Members of the Huntsville City Council and Mayor Tommy Battle listen to a presentation on the FY2021 budget before a vote was held on Thursday, September 24.

The new fiscal year starts on October 1, 2020.

Posted: Sep 25, 2020 2:16 AM
Updated: Sep 25, 2020 12:57 PM

During Thursday's meeting of the Huntsville City Council, members unanimously approved the Fiscal Year(FY) 2021, $236 million general fund budget.

The council also approved $140 million in capital spending through the 1990 and 2014 Capital Improvement Plans (CIP). The 1990 CIP funding was approved in a 4-1 vote with Council Member Bill Kling voting against it. 

City officials said the size of the FY2021 budget was similar to that of the FY2020 budget and only increased about $8.1 million. The coronavirus pandemic caused a roughly $15 million loss in revenue for the latter half of FY2020, which forced the city to make some mid-year adjustments to that budget. 

CHANGES TO THE BUDGET

After the original budget proposal was introduced on September 10, during a September 15 special session, the council introduced, and ultimately adopted, an amendment to earmark $70,885 for a handful of organizations. The following groups received the following increases to their original appropriations:

  • North Huntsville Business Association - $6,000
  • The Arts Council, Inc. (DBA Arts Huntsville) - $25,000
  • First Stop, Inc. - $13,295
  • Second Mile Development, Inc. - $13,295
  • Huntsville Public Library - $13,295

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IMPACT ON EMPLOYEES

Personnel makes up about 70.4 percent of the general fund budget or $166,435,200. Of the 2,804 full-time and part-time employees for the city, 25 new employees were added to the city's payroll, mostly in the fire department and in public works, according to Finance Director Penny Smith.

The council also approved a one percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) for city employees. Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said giving employees a raise, even if it wasn't as much as some might want it to be, was important.

"Especially coming out of the pandemic, or coming through the pandemic, I think it's something that would help our employees and would help them to staying being employees of the City of Huntsville," Battle said.

LONG-TERM PROJECTS

The 1990 and 2014 Capital Improvement Plans (CIP) reflect the current fiscal year spending on long-term projects laid out in these proposals.

Highlights of the 1990 CIP funding for FY2021 include $35 million for a new city hall, $5 million for renovations to Joe Davis Stadium and $4 million for a new fire station. 

The majority of roughly $53.5 million of spending in the 2014 CIP will go toward transportation improvements. Smith said in her presentation that this plan also "has capacity [a] for future LED streetlight conversion." 

The Regional Amphitheater was funded in the FY2020 budget.

FUTURE CHANGES?

In response to a question from the council, Smith said that the city council can make any needed adjustments to the budget through the halfway point in the fiscal year, which falls in March 2021.

She said they can reevaluate if financial conditions either improve or worsen due to the pandemic. Right now, the budget revenues match the expenditures at $236 million. The expenses break down as follows:

  • Personnel - $166,435,200 (70.4%)
  • Operations - $44,946,432 (19%)
  • Operating Capital - $3,310,500 (1.4%)
  • Appropriations/Intrgov/Transfers - $21,609,774 (9.1%)

The new fiscal year starts on October 1, 2020.

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