Huntsville City Council reviews $236M budget plan

Updated: Sep. 15, 2020 at 10:21 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The Huntsville City Council is gearing up for 2021.

Tuesday night they spent close to three hours picking apart the budget for the next fiscal year.

Mayor Tommy Battle says he is proud the city will end 2020 balanced, but that it wouldn’t have happened with the support of the departments city wide.

The council dove into the 2021 budget and capital improvement plans. It’s no surprise the pandemic hit many industries hard, and of course hotels and restaurants were included

That means the city’s lodging and sales tax revenue took a nose dive.

“All experts, both the local ones we talked to and the national ones, agree that it will be spring before we really see a level of normalcy,” says Penny Smith, city finance director.

The city asked departments to finish the year at a five percent budget cut and almost all jumped on board.

“We have to be cautious in the way we spend our money. But we also know that we are still going to be a growing economy,” Mayor Tommy Battle said.

One of the biggest chunks of the city’s $236 million budget will go to a new city hall, others include a new fire station and construction projects.

Councilman Will Culver asked if the city could bring the cost for the new city hall down.

“We could truly downsize and create a smaller workspace, therefore saving tax payers, I won’t say half of that 35 million, but at least a decent portion there of,” Culver said.

But the city administrator says the project is not over the top, and that the city will be saving a lot of money not having to lease spaces.

The budget proposal is also slightly increasing police funding, adding new jobs to the payroll and allotting the Mid City Amphitheater to make its first appearance in the budget, getting more than $600,000.

The city council is expected to vote on the plan next week.

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