Decatur leaders present $91 million budget, focus on city workers’ salaries and education system

WAFF 48's Matthew King reporting
Published: Sep. 11, 2023 at 11:12 PM CDT
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DECATUR Ala. (WAFF) - Decatur Chief Financial Officer Kyle Demeester presented the 2024 fiscal year budget to the city council during Monday’s work session.

The city’s budget, which is set for $91 million, is higher than previous years.

One of the top priorities is funding first responders and educators. Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling says the cost of living adjustment to the salaries is at least 3%. 57% of the budget is for paying city employees, with police and fire accounting for a combined 35%. The budget also allows for nearly $30 million for the school system, one focus is expanding the career academy.

Demeester says they hope to finish many of the city’s improvement projects. Several are in the proposed budget, like improving the Wilson Morgan Park Recreation Center, the softball complex on Modaus Road and the Moulton Street parking deck.

Mayor Tab Bowling says many more people are flocking to the River City, so the city is seeing more revenue from sales tax, Demeester projects a $3 million increase in sales tax revenue in 2023.

Mayor Bowling says the increased tourism is why they proposed a new hotel and retail options downtown.

“Residents from the region will come in and visit Decatur and dine while they’re here,” says Mayor Bowling. “We have the recreation side of things where we host sports tournaments and folks come in and stay in our hotels and do some shopping.”

WAFF 48's Megan Plotka reporting

Council President Jacob Ladner said this budget makes sense to him, but he has growing concerns about how quickly the budget is rising every year.

“I know there’s a lot of causes for that,” said Ladner. “It costs a lot more right now to run your house than seven to 10 years ago. It’s just something we need to be more aware of. That is concerning that we’ve grown over $40 million in what it takes to run the city in seven or eight years.”

The council will vote on the budget at Sept. 18 council meeting at 9:30 a.m. at Decatur City Hall.

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