City gets look at budget

Published 9:22 am Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A new Brewton budget estimates slightly greater sales tax revenue — thanks to the 1-cent increase passed last year — and includes a 2.5 percent cost of living raise for city employees.

But, as in years past, that raise is dependent on the city council’s approval.

City Clerk John Angel presented the budget for the first time in public Monday at the city council’s regular meeting. Council members will vote on the budget at a later meeting.

“There is a good chance (a pay raise) will not happen Oct. 1,” the beginning of the fiscal year, Angel said.

The budget reflects estimates of a nearly $325,000 increase in sales tax revenue. Most department budgets remain relatively unchanged, although the police department budget is down by more than $140,000, largely because financing for new police cars will be finished by next fiscal year, Angel said.

The budget also reflects some projects the city hopes to accomplish in the coming year, including maintenance at the fire department, upgrades to the tennis courts at Dogwood Hills and landscaping at sewer station offices.

Also Monday:

• The council approved an ordinance laying out the rates for an $11 million bond issue that will pay for needed sewer improvements, which the city has been discussing for several months.

Earlier this year, the council increased sewer rates in anticipation of the bond issue. The increase in rates will help pay back the money.

The rate schedule, worked out in part by Brewton native Walter Lewis, the city’s bond adviser, of Benchmark Securities, locks in a rate of 3 percent for the first six years, then varies until hitting 5 percent in the last year, 2043.

Mayor Yank Lovelace said the rates were good, considering “June was a terrible month for the bond market.”

Rates were not as good as they were when the city was first discussing the bond issue.

“I’ve never seen an interest rate climate like that,” Lewis said. “It took some time to get a handle on where it was going. I think the financing went well overall; we were able to make some prudent decisions.”

• After a public hearing, the council approved a new liquor license for The Groove, a lounge which will be located in the same spot as the old Bankshot, which closed.