Heflin Council passes budget with $46K surplus
by Laura Camper
Sep 24, 2013 | 3175 views |  0 comments | 60 60 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At their meeting Tuesday, the Heflin City Council members passed a $2.7 million budget that predicts a $46,189 surplus at the end of fiscal year 2014.

It’s an improvement, the council members agreed. For fiscal year 2013, the city was predicting a deficit of more than $300,000 when the council approved some changes to the budget in February.

The city estimates it will bring in $2.7 million in revenue in the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. The budget also includes an $80,000 allotment from the Alabama Trust Fund the city received this fiscal year to be used for capital projects.

The budget passed unanimously, but members said it still doesn’t reflect all the changes they would like to see.

Councilman Shannon Roberts said before the vote the budget is headed in the right direction, but still is not where he thinks it should be.

“This is a very minimal surplus, so that’s not much reserve,” Roberts said.

Roberts said he would like to see the city’s gas tax revenue used for paving roads. It is currently used to pay for the city’s street lights, said Mayor Rudy Rooks. Roberts also said the city’s debt payments will rise in the future and the city isn’t putting money aside to prepare.

“We’re hoping our sales tax will go up, our revenue,” said Heflin City Clerk Shane Smith.

Rooks also said the city will have to work on future budgets to be able to accomplish his goals including raises for employees and hiring more people in the Police Department, street department, recreation department and City Hall.

“We had to make a lot of cuts,” Rooks said. “Our debt service is taking such a big chunk out of our finances that we just can’t hardly do anything.”

The city budgeted $364,635 for debt payments in the upcoming fiscal year, about 14 percent of its income.

Bringing in industry and business would help the situation in the long run, Rooks said.

“It may take the rest of our term to really get where we want to be on the budget,” Rooks said.

Councilman Travis Crowe said the city needs to tighten its belt further to build a cushion for emergencies.

“Plus, we’ve got to try to get some streets paved sooner or later,” Crowe said.

Councilwoman Rhonda Green said the budget is practical enough the city should be able to stick to it throughout the year, though.

“We’re just going to have to be careful with it,” Green said.

In other business the council members:

— Approved $163,000 worth of changes to the fiscal year 2013 budget to reflect some expenses in police dispatch services, payroll and debt payments that were higher than estimated.

— Approved an updated personnel manual including mandatory direct deposit for employee paychecks.

— Approved a special events license for Smith Farms that would allow the store to sell beer at its Music Festival on Oct. 19.

— Approved an agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation to use Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program grant funds to replace the bridge on Bells Mill Road over Cane Creek.

— Heard the city will be getting some wine tax money it is owed. Two companies, Alabama Crown and United-Johnson Brothers, were mistakenly sending the money to Cleburne County, Smith said. One company has said it owes $1,000; the other is still working on the numbers, Smith said.

Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.

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