Mayor Battle Presents $242 Million 2014 City Budget

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle presented  Huntsville's 2014 fiscal year budget to the city council at their meeting on Thursday evening.  The budget comes in at $242 million, a 2.4 percent increase over the 2013 budget.

"Overall, there are no surprises," said Mayor Battle.  "Financially speaking, we continue to remain lean, but we are still able to provide the same services to our citizens as we provided last year."

The majority of the $5.1 million increase will come from mandated insurance costs, retirement and personnel, including health care, according to Mayor Battle.

Though sales tax revenues have been sluggish in 2013, according to Finance Director Randy Taylor, things are looking better for 2014 and beyond.

According to the Mayor's Office, the city has conservatively factored in another three percent increase in sale tax revenues in the 2014 budget.  This allows the City to be flexible in the event of an unexpected decline in revenues.

"We are presenting a solid, balanced budget that accommodates our basic needs, ensures the safety of the public and allows us to provide the primary services our citizens need and deserve," said Battle.

Under the mayor's plan, city employees would receive a 1 percent cost-of-living raise - same as this year. For someone earning $40,000, that's a $400 bonus. The COLA would cost taxpayers about $1.1 million.

The Huntsville-Madison County Public Library would get an extra $125,000 next year under the proposed budget. Even so, its city appropriation would fall short of pre-recession levels.

Battle is also recommending additional money for the Von Braun Center and Convention & Visitors Bureau. And the Weeden House Museum on Gates Avenue is in line to receive city tax dollars for the first time.

City Finance Director Randy Taylor said the budget anticipates sales tax revenues growing by 3 percent in 2014. Sales taxes this year are running about 2 percent ahead of 2012 levels.

"I would much rather be pleasantly rewarded with unexpected resources than to be struggling to make ends meet," said Mayor Battle.  "We are presenting a balanced budget that accommodates our base needs, ensures the safety of the public, and allows us to provide the primary services our citizens need and deserve."

(Our news partners at The Huntsville Times contributed to this report) 

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