Huntsville City Council Approves “Lean” $242 Million Budget

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - The Huntsville City Council approved a $242 million budget for Fiscal Year 2014, a 2.4% increase from the previous year. Still, city leaders are calling it a lean budget that leaves little wiggle room.

City Financial Director Randy Taylor cited sluggish growth in sales tax revenue. In august, officials even saw a drop.

"It's been the first month and probably only month the direct impact of sequestration and its effect on local jobs would have made itself known inside the local economy," said Taylor.

City officials made the conservative estimate that there will be a 3% increase in tax revenues for fiscal year 2014, that way they have a safety net in case of an unexpected decline .

Because of the tight financial times, most city agencies and non-profits will receive the same amount of funding in 2014 as they received in fiscal year 2013.

For example, the Huntsville Police and Fire departments. While both chiefs assured the council safety was not a concern, they could not ignore that the 2014 budget does not provide any funding for additional fleet.

When asked by Council President Mark Russell what he would do if extra funding was provided, Huntsville Police Chief Lewis Morris immediately responded "work on the fleet."

The police department added 38 new cars to its fleet this year, favoring more fuel-efficient vehicles. With a 5-year-plan to replace 20 percent of its marked cars, Chief Morris said it was unlikely the ambitious plan will be achieved.