City budget proposes raises

Published 1:18 am Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A proposed budget for the rest of the current fiscal year would give all City of Brewton employees a 2.5 percent raise, across the board.

The city council heard a presentation on the budget Tuesday but will vote on the proposal at its next meeting.

The fiscal year actually began in October, before a new administration took office, so the council at the time passed a provisional budget.

Mayor Yank Lovelace told council members at a workshop before their regular meeting Tuesday that the next fiscal year’s budget would likely be looked at in finer detail, after council members had a chance to meet with each department head.

“Normally, we would have started (the budget process) last March,” Lovelace said. “They deferred it to this council.

“I want to spend time going through department by department. I want to understand how the departments work. … If something needs to be changed, I feel 100 percent this council will change it.”

Lovelace said the council would begin its meetings by talking to Police Chief Monte McGougin next week.

At the regular meeting, City Clerk John Angel presented a proposed budget that included the raises as well as modest projections for an increase in revenue, taking into account a 1-cent sales tax that went into effect Jan. 1.

The budget’s greatest increases were in salaries. Angel said the recreation budget is one area that showed the greatest change, because former recreation director Gary Hill retired. A staff member was promoted, and his position not replaced, so overall the salaries were reduced.

Angel said he and recreation officials as well as the budget committee were able to look in greater detail at areas to cut in that department, the kind of scrutiny he said he expects in the next fiscal year.

The city’s budget includes a projected $109,000 budget surplus at the end of the fiscal year, which would go into reserve funding. It also includes a disaster fund in case of emergency needs.

The state requires cities to have a balanced budget, so if revenue is not meeting expectations there will be cuts. But Angel said any revenue above what is budgeted would go into the city’s reserves, which city officials had previously said were severely depleted in recent years as the city dipped into them for operations.