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Demopolis City Council approves $10.3 million budget

The Demopolis City Council on Thursday approved a $10.29 million budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

The new budget calls for just under $10.3 million in total revenue with expenses coming in at about $9.3 million.

The projected revenue is up from the $9.85 million actual revenue recorded for the 2015-16 fiscal year. Expenses are down slightly from $9,550,000 in 2015-16.

The city is anticipating approximately $7.7 million in tax revenue with another $1.28 million generated through fees associated with business licensing.

The largest expense projected falls under general government, which is budgeted at $1.96 million. The police department is budgeted at $1.95 million and the fire department at $1.66 million.

Demopolis Mayor John Laney said one of the changes in this year’s budget includes removing capital and grant spending from within departments, instead recording those expenses separately.

“Making that adjustment will give us a more realistic picture of what each department is spending,” Laney said.

The budgeted capital expense for the upcoming year is over $267,700 while the grant project expenses, which would include funds the city must match in order to obtain grants, is projected at $660,000.

Categorizing the grants and capital expenses, Laney said, is a positive change from previous city budgets.

“The budget as presented is good and it is transparent. We don’t have grants and capital expenses within the departments, which will make this budget more clear to the public,” he said.

The mayor also indicated changes for the Park and Recreation Department where the city will be providing monthly payments, totaling over $620,000 for the year, while allowing the Park and Rec board to keep any funds they may receive.

“We are giving them semi-autonomy to keep the revenues they generate and we will continue to support them by writing a check each month. If they earn a profit for the year, they can use that money to enhance the department. If they need more money, they would have to come to the council and ask for it and explain why they need it,” Laney said.

The mayor said he is very appreciative to those who worked on this year’s budget, including the city’s finance committee, which consists of the mayor and councilmembers Cleveland Cole and Nathan Hardy.

“The department heads and the finance committee worked very hard. They asked a lot of questions, which I feel helped us to produce a better, cleaner budget,” Laney said.

(This article originally publishes in the Saturday, Sept. 9, print edition of the Demopolis Times.)