Huntsville city leaders close to approving next year’s budget

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Next week, city leaders are expected to approve their $521 million budget for the next year. The plan will pay for road projects and more police officers.

Council president Devyn Keith is pushing for a lodging tax to pay for the anticipated new amphitheater.

"It's a healthy budget, we're continuing to see growth in Huntsville," city administrator John Hamilton said.

With the growth, the city hopes to hire eight more police officers, but they admit recruiting remains a challenge.

"The character, the capabilities, the intellect, the physical capabilities. Those people have lots of choices right now professionally," Hamilton said.

With nearly a billion dollars in ongoing road projects, city leaders are eyeing future construction, especially at MidCity.

"We've already spent I think four million dollars just getting prepared for the build. And that investment is well spent, I think it's going to be a great place," Keith said.

"We anticipate in the near future bringing you a contract that would get that operator and get them on the team," Hamilton said.

The city is acquiring land and is in talks with a management company to oversee the future amphitheater, a concert venue will seat around eight thousand people.

The city is prepared to borrow an additional $30 million to build the venue. Keith is pushing for a lodging tax, arguing Huntsville visitors should help pay for it.

"Comparatively, it'll be a cost to the community, who in large part will never use it," Keith said.

"Figure as an estimate, $1.3 million is approximately a one percent lodging tax," Hamilton said.

The council is expected to approve the budget next week. Hamilton says it's unclear yet how much money the amphitheater could bring in each year.

It's expected to be finished in 2021.

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