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City council passes 2003 budget

The Demopolis City Council passed the fiscal 2003 budget Thursday.

Expected expenditures total $6,515,851.29, and anticipated revenues total $6,527,393.36.

The council approved a motion by Councilman Ronnie O’Neal to have the cost for an administrative vehicle be removed from the budget and the mileage cost for city employees be increased from 25 cents to 31 cents a mile. City Clerk Vickie Taylor spoke in favor of the administrative vehicle which could be used by all city departments.

The council voted for a recommendation by Councilman Thomas Moore that the budget for public safety be increased by $1,144.00 for salaries.

There is also $21,000 included in the 2003 budget for plans and specifications for renovation of the old fire station.

Demopolis Mayor Austin Caldwell reminded the council that from reserves will come the cost of a new fire truck, the payment of a bill from S.T. Bunn for paving and there is a commitment to help fund the construction of the proposed Higher Education Center.

Councilman Willard Williams was concerned about the decrease of funding in the budget for street paving.

There is a three percent raise for city employees and provisions for new employees in the police and fire departments, the mayor said.

Mayor Caldwell abstained from the budget vote because he said the increase in the mileage cost will affect him the most.

In other action from Thursday’s meeting, the council voted to pay the power bill of a street light for the Forest Lake subdivision. Jim Stanford represented the Forest Lake residents at the council meeting.

The residents will pay the cost to purchase the street light.

Charles Singleton was reappointed for another term to the Board of Adjustment and Councilman Williams was reappointed to the Utility Board.

The council approved the application for a liquor license for the upcoming Christmas on the River Barbecue Cookoff at the City Landing ball field. They also approved the annual fireworks display, December 7, during the COTR festival.

The renewal of a liquor license for the Demopolis County Club was also approved.

Reid Cavnar of Merchant Capital Bank in Montgomery spoke to the council about refinancing the city bonds that were issued in 1993 for construction of the new high school and the paving of city streets. The council will receive proposals from two other firms before making a decision about refinancing, Mayor Caldwell said.

Councilman Mike Baker was concerned about the road condition of the North end of Maria Street. He said the city might approach the Southern Railway about help with road repair.

The road is also damaged by industrial trucks, Caldwell said. Collins said River City Industries had at one time offered to help with road repair, and he asked if the city could ask for their assistance.

Councilman Williams said the city needs to work for an employee raise scale. The council had just recently approved a new personnel manual, and Collins, a member of the Personnel Committee, said the raise scale was next on their list.

Baker also was concerned about the "green stagnant water" in the private pool behind Collins Communications being a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Councilman Moore asked about that any possible city funding which might go to the Bryan W. Whitfield Hospital should go to employee salaries not just go to the administration only.