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Cuts reccomended, city tables budget

The Demopolis City Council Thursday night tabled further discussion on the city’s budget due, in part, to the absence of two of its members: Mitchell Congress and Melvin Yelverton.

A four-out-of-six attendance did not stop discussion of one of the largest obstacles in passing the budget – the deficit.

Councilman Bill Meador, who since with presented the budget has advocated serious cuts to balance it, proposed several measures that he said would bring the city to within $100,000 of a balanced budget and preserve the city’s reserves.

Currently, the proposed budget calls for a $1.1 million infusion of reserve funding this fiscal year.

Meador proposed trudging forward on the next phase of a bond issue that would include a note payment this December on the $4.5 million bond the council passed earlier this year to secure the funds to purchase land for an Intermodal Complex.

However, he recommended that funding for several paving projects be reduced as the city looked for ways to trim expense.

“The $180,000 Lem WIlson Road water project…I’ve talked with the water department and we feel like we can get that done for $20,000 to $25,000,” he said of the originally anticipated $180,000 project. “We would realize significant savings and Lem Wilson Road would get water.”

Meador also suggested the council address the lingering issues with Sunset Road and honor its previous commitment to tar and pave the street.

“A tar and pave job saves us $120,000 and it gets that done,” he said.

Meador recommended scrapping the renovation of Fire Station No. 3 altogether, which was budgeted to be a nearly $750,000 project.

“There are USDA grants out there for renovation,” he said. “I think we need to pursue those grants and if it takes a year, it just takes a year.”

Also recommended was the elimination of a one-time pay adjustment of $1,000 for each of the city’s 91 full-time employees.

“I just can’t see doing that with what we’re looking at right now,” Meador said of funding the bonuses and the likelihood of operating at a deficit. “If, down the road, we’re looking at a surplus, or we have a windfall, yeah…maybe we can add it back.”

Meador also recommended the council members feel some of the pain, trimming the council’s travel budget by $4,000 and slicing the mayor’s travel budget in half, from $10,000 to $5,000.

No action was taken on the budget pending further study of Meador’s suggestions. The budget will be added to the next meeting’s agenda, Oct. 20.

Until a new one is passed, the city will continue to operate under the parameters of last year’s budget.

This year’s proposed budget includes revenues of $11.2 million against anticipated expenses of $10.1 million. However, $1.4 million of anticipated revenues is an infusion from city reserves to balance the budget.