By Trent Moore
The Cullman Times
After delaying the budget to iron out some final details, the City of Cullman passed a $26.7 million general fund budget for 2013 this week. The budget includes a 3 percent raise for employees and has nearly $1 million set aside to add potential industrial property.
Spending is up 4.6 percent from last year’s $25.5 million initial operations budget, though officials say the upswing in the economy should more than cover the increase.
All 299 full-time city employees will receive a 3 percent pay raise immediately, as well as a one-time $600 “adjustment” in December to coincide with the holidays.
The passage of the budget was delayed by nearly two weeks to allow the council additional time to work, following a late start due to the contested mayor’s race that saw incumbent Max Townson reelected.
“There were a lot of things we went back and forth on, and there are actually still a few more things we want to look at ironing out,” council president Garlan Gudger, Jr. said. “But, with the pay raise for employees included, we wanted to go ahead and get that in effect so they will start receiving that.”
After cutting expenditures by nearly 25 percent in 2008 when the economy turned, the city has been slowly restoring capital needs with each passing year. For 2013, the council plans to purchase a few pieces of major departmental equipment, as well as continue with some revitalization work in downtown.
With the city’s industrial parks close to capacity, the council has set aside $800,000 to search for and potentially purchase additional property for economic development.
A total of $550,000 has also been budgeted to potentially relocate the street department at some point in the 2013 fiscal year.
The city has spent the past several years updating infrastructure while refreshing sidewalks and lighting in downtown via the streetscaping program, funded by a federal matching grant. With additional funds available from the government, the council has also set aside $350,000 to have matching funds if an appropriation becomes available.
Major capital departmental expenditures for 2012 include a $150,000 patch truck for the street department, a $186,000 front-loading sanitation truck; a $120,000 trencher for the water department; six Chevy Tahoes for the police department for $162,000; a $60,000 track skid steer for the water department; and $43,000 for the streetlight project for the “Busy Bee block” at the corner of Fifth Street SE and First Avenue SE.
In addition to passing the 2013 budget, the council also reconciled an additional $2 million in expenditures from the now-complete 2012 budget cycle. The largest part of that overage, $900,000, is due to the recent purchase of the former Burrow property on County Road 222. The remaining $1.1 million relates to departmental overages and overtime.
“Salaries were up in some departments, along with the landfill fee and fuel costs,” city clerk Wes Moore said. “Once you subtract the purchase of the Burrow property, that gets closer in line with what we usually see at the end of a fiscal year.”
* Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.