Strange delivers FY2010 budget proposal

Posted by Cody Holyoke - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - In front of a packed house, Mayor Todd Strange laid out his plan for Fiscal Year 2010, tackling empty reserve funds and a massive shortfall with a streamlined, $218 million budget.

"The 2010 budget is a conservative spending outline that contains tough measures that are unpleasant, unpopular, yet unavoidable," Strange said Tuesday.

Some of those measures include cutting back on curbside recycling, raising city healthcare premiums, parking 166 take-home city vehicles, and cutting funding to Jubilee Cityfest.

"We will continue to provide in kind services worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, but the city will no longer provide direct cash to Jubilee," Strange explained.

City workers slaved through the weekend, tightening what they could and trying to find ways to pump $3 million into the Montgomery's reserve fund.

"It's absolutely necessary because you have all kinds of unknowns all the time.  If the opportunity is out there, then you can take it.  You can't if you don't [have the reserves]," said city finance director Lloyd Faulkner.

The biggest issue involved the possibility of layoffs.

Mayor Strange told the council cutting jobs through attrition will work for now.

The city may implement furlough days if revenue isn't where it needs to be.

"We hope that that's not necessary.  It's tough to manage, obviously employees have to bear the brunt of it," Strange said.

It's a sticking point for council members as they prepare to wade into another round of budget meetings.

"The major focus is: how do we find ways within this budget to keep some of these employees?  We just need to look at and talk about ways to save people.  I'm more about cutting equipment than cutting people," explained Councilor C.C. Calhoun.

City employees do have some good news.  Strange wants to unfreeze step wage increases, and offer free and low-cost healthcare at clinics just for them.

He's also proposed an incentive program for the Chamber of Commerce.  They'll get a piece of the lodging tax if council members approve this version of the budget.

Mayor Strange also mentioned the city will release 4 employees from Old Alabama Town to Landmarks Foundation.

The Montgomery City Council has until September to pass the budget.

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