Huntsville mayor says he has a plan for making up loss due to COVID-19

Huntsville mayor says he has a plan for making up loss due to COVID-19

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The city of Huntsville is facing a $10 million to $15 million loss because of the pandemic, but Mayor Tommy Battle said he has a plan.

The past several years, Battle said the budget has always done really well, except during the recession in 2008.

Now that the pandemic has hit, he’s facing similar challenges. The mayor said the city made it work then, and they will make it work now too.

“We are missing $7 million in sales tax, $7 million from hotel lodging tax, then there’s another assorted group would add up to the other $1 million to $2 million,” Battle said.

So how does a city climb out of that kind of hole?

Mayor Battle said it started months ago with a hiring freeze.

“A large percentage of your expenditures is payroll so first thing you do is put a limited hiring freeze,” he said.

A solution Battle said should help.

“We are also cutting our expenditures and by cutting our expenditures we are cutting those $10 million to $15 million,” he said.

Finance Director Penny Smith said with cutbacks from departments, federal help, and an increase in some revenues, the city should not have to dip into its reserves for emergencies.

Something Battle said he is grateful for.

“We were very fortunate we were ahead of numbers before COVID-19 hit. We were very fortunate that we had a lot of plus months before we hit the minus months,” he said.

Officials with the city said they expect finances to get better over the next six to eight months.

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