HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Every year a new budget is proposed to continue the growth and quality for the City of Huntsville.
On September 10, Mayor Tommy Battle introduced his Fiscal Year 2021 budget to the City Council. The balanced budget includes $236 million in general fund operations and $140 million in capital spending through the 1990 and 2014 Capital Improvement Plans.
The budget represents the continuing commitment of city government to provide quality services and investments to a growing community while meeting the challenges of current economic events.
“We’ve taken a cautious, conservative approach to next year’s spending while still keeping up with growth and demand for services,” said Mayor Battle. “I am grateful to our department heads for their ability to keep this City moving forward while keeping a watchful eye on every penny spent.”
Highlights of the FY-21 Budget
- New fire station for Huntsville’s western area
- New fire ladder truck for Station 18
- 2 new buses for Huntsville Transit
- $10.2 M in street resurfacing
- $14 M in roads maintenance, sidewalks and drainage
- $26 M in new street construction
- $46.7 M for municipal facilities (includes new City Hall)
- $8.9 M for recreation projects
- $24.3 M for outside agency appropriations
- 1% cost of living increase for employees
The general fund represents an $8.1 million increase over FY20 and provides basic level funding for municipal departments. The bulk of any increase supports personnel needs to accommodate growth and staffing at new facilities. Support to the Huntsville City School system remains fully funded and capital projects will proceed as planned.
Finance Director Penny Smith said she is cautiously optimistic about revenues in the coming year. The City is still growing, housing sales are up, and the income base remains steady thanks to Redstone Arsenal, numerous large corporate employers, growth in the construction market and the abundance of new jobs being filled in the community.
“Sales and use taxes are holding steady, but we recognize we will still have COVID impacts and we’ve taken that into consideration,” said Smith. “Revenues from the hospitality sector and some retail are expected to remain down and the budget reflects those projections.”
Half of the FY-20 Fiscal Year was under the pandemic, forcing “normal” out the window and costing the City about $15 million in lost revenues. Thanks to mid-year cuts and adjustments, the City is ending the fiscal year on an even note.
“I am proud of how our departments adapted to meet these everyday challenges,” said Battle. “We placed a limited freeze on hiring and cut operating budgets 5%, forcing everyone to do more with less.”
The City did not cut the budgets of outside agencies during the pandemic but asked them to consider reducing their annual appropriation by 5% for FY-21. Nearly every agency cooperated with the request, an indication of the community’s shared commitment to get through this pandemic together.
“The proposed budget is structured to meet the goals and objectives demanded by our growing city, to keep our reserves healthy and uphold the conservative fiscal spending principles that have made Huntsville a leader in municipal fiscal management,” said Battle.
Following tonight’s introduction, Council Members will hold a work session on Tuesday, Sept. 15, at 5 p.m. to review the budget in greater detail. Council is expected to vote on final budget approval on Sept. 24 in time for the Oct. 1 start of the 2021 fiscal year.