Grayson tells city employees of budget woes

Published 10:58 pm Monday, December 22, 2008

At a special called meeting of the Demopolis City Council on Monday at the Demopolis Civic Center, mayor Mike Grayson told city employees that despite the hard economic times being felt and the potential $1.4-million deficit in the city’s budget, there would be no layoffs of city employees, if it could be helped.

Grayson said at the 13-minute meeting that he instructed the city’s department heads to look at ways to reduce their budgets by 15 percent, and one way the city would help do that is eliminate overtime.

“’Reduce the budget’ does not mean pink-slipping anybody,” he said. “What we want to do is, we’re going to have to get our expenditures in line with our revenues, the same way we have to do at home with our personal spending.”

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He added that the 4-perent raises given earlier this year were not targeted among the budget cuts.

“The finance committee are strongly recommending that all non-essential overtime be eliminated 100 percent,” said District 1 representative Thomas Moore, who is a member of the Demopolis City Council’s finance committee. “Our main focus right now is that everybody receive at least 40 hours a week. If there arises an opportunity where overtime is needed, it must be approved by the mayor in advance.

“Our goal is to not pink-slip anybody, but we can’t do deficit budgeting, which means we can’t spend more than we have. And we’re not going to spend more than we have, but you can help us.”

Grayson said that he instructed the city’s department heads to be looking and thinking about how to do this without anybody losing their jobs.

“We do not want anybody to lose their jobs,” Grayson said, “and we do not want to lose any services. Now, what does that mean? As I told them, what it means is: We’re going to have to do more with less.”

Grayson told the city employees that he wanted them to understand that if they went to the department heads asking for something and they were denied that the employees understood why it was being denied.

He also encouraged the employees to accept the challenge before them and to work to overcome it.

“It’s an opportunity for us to move ahead and show what we’re really made of,” Grayson said. “I’m of the opinion that we can do it, and we will do it, but the main thing is: One thing you’ve noticed about this council and me is that I believe in putting it out there so that everybody can know what page we’re on. I think that’s very important, because I am of the opinion that knowledge is power, and power is wealth. If we know what’s going on, then we can do what we need to do.”

“The finance committee’s sole responsibility is to oversee and to insure that we have enough revenue coming in and projections are within actuality, and that we spend within the means by which the law allows,” said District 5 representative and finance committee member Jack Cooley. “There is a law in the state of Alabama that says we cannot spend more than 90 percent of our revenues. The prior four years, the maximum that a city could spend was 95 percent.

“The key of this is projecting realistically what the city will bring in 12 months down the road. Well, the projection is way higher than what we realized. At the end of last year, we were several hundred thousand dollars short in revenue of what we had projected.”

In closing, Grayson told the city employees that he hoped they would be able to get together again, perhaps around the Fourth of July, to celebrate what they have accomplished.

“We can do great things together,” he said. “Just like Mr. Cooley said: It all depends on you. I appreciate what every one of you do. Our town would not be what it is without what you do and what your department does. It is a team.”

Grayson told the employees that if they had a concern, to address it through their department heads, who would relay the concern to the mayor’s office.

The next regular meeting of the Demopolis City Council will be on Wednesday, Jan. 7, at 5:15 p.m.