HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — The Huntsville City Council approved the budget for the upcoming fiscal year at a meeting on Thursday night.

The total proposed $281 million budget is a 7.1% increase from last year’s budget. That money will go directly to road resurfacing, infrastructure, and public safety. It also goes towards a 5 percent cost-of-living increase for city employees, including in that tier increases for those eligible employees.

Councilmember Devyn Keith, citing a great need for discretionary funding, asked the council to approve an amendment to allow discretionary funds into that budget totaling $375,000.

The mayor responded to the increase for city employees saying in part, “We’re investing in our employees because they do the heavy lifting for our community. They’ve helped make us the #1 city in the country.” 

The amendment proposal by Keith was not approved but Councilmember Jennie Robinson, along with Mayor Battle immediately pushed against the approval of the funds.

Keith, along with Council President John Meredith, cited the need for the funds that will go towards continued development for their respective districts but felt insulted that Robinson and the mayor.

“We have a process in place so why can’t we use the process in place? What’s the benefit to the taxpayer in doing this because that should ultimately that should be our biggest concern, how the taxpayer benefits from this,” said Robinson.   

Each district would have received $75,000 in discretion funds if approved.