City passes $9.5-million budget

Published 3:31 am Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Demopolis City Council approved its Fiscal Year 2010 budget by a 5-1 vote at its regular scheduled meeting on Thursday.

District 3 representative Melvin Yelverton was the lone dissenting vote, having requested executive sessions to discuss aspects of the budget at each of the previous two council meetings.

Following an 83-minute executive session on Thursday night, a motion was made to approve the budget with the adjustments discussed in executive session.

“I will not be a part of this budget that spends 100 percent of (last year’s) budgeted amount where 10 people get a raise and the rest of the department don’t,” Yelverton said in voting against the budget.

Mayor Mike Grayson said the “raises” that Yelverton spoke of were salary adjustments that were brought more in line with other city employees’ salaries.

“The adjustments were that we added two individuals to adjust their salaries to make them more competitive,” Grayson said. “That similarly affected employees with duties at the time. Those that were dramatically underpaid, it was recommended by the department heads.”

Grayson added that the number of employees with salary adjustments totaled nine, and they worked in different departments.

The 2010 budget is set at $9,590,969, which is almost the same amount that the 2009 budget was. The Alabama League of Municipalities requires that cities set budgets at 90 percent of the previous year’s budget.

“The fact is that the League of Municipalities requires that if you have a budget – and you aren’t required to have a budget – but if you have a budget, you are only supposed to budget 90 percent of your projected revenues,” Grayson said. “Well, obviously, we have been in a very flat revenue stream over this past year. Perhaps we’re being overly optimistic, but we feel that our revenue stream will be similar – if not identical – to what we had this year. We’d like to think it would be better, but we are trying to be conservative.

“If we went back and did 90 percent of that revenue stream, we’d be looking at losing about $500,000 out of the budget. Because we already had a net budget cut of about 9 percent, the only place we could go is to cut salaries and cut personnel. The finance committee and the council as a whole is unwilling to cut anybody loose, reduce their hours, reduce their benefits or cut city services. We feel that we would be defensible in making that argument.”