PRATTVILLE , AL (WSFA) - The Prattville City Council will hold its first work session on the Mayor's proposed budget starting at 6:00pm Tuesday. The meeting, open to the public and planned at the Doster Memorial Center, may shed light on how the city will deal with the massive debt load it's saddled to.
Prattville has been growing by leaps and bounds, and it's been piling up a mountain of debt along the way. An audit, requested by new Mayor Bill Gillespie, revealed that the debt is more than $60 million dollars, and is still rising.
At last Tuesday's council meeting, auditors laid out the numbers for members of the City Council and residents who packed the room.
Prattville resident Patricia Cummins said, "I think people are starting to realize, we're in a desperate situation."
Cummins, an outspoken critic at many council meetings, still wants answers to her questions about the city's finances. Working as a CPA for 30 years, Cummins says she knew things didn't add up, even before the audit was made public.
"Finally we were hearing the truth of how bad things really were," she added.
Councilman Ray Boles, the first to admit the Council made mistakes in the past, says it's time to move forward even though more difficult changes lie ahead.
"The situation is very serious, and we have to make a lot of hard decisions in the next few weeks to fix it. It took us 10 years to get in this, and it's going to take us at least five years to get out of it," he said.
So as residents crunch the numbers for themselves, taking advantage of public access to the Mayor's proposed budget and those from years prior, Patricia Cummins offers her own opinion to city leaders.
"You have to balance your budget with what you have coming in as revenues. You cannot keep passing it on to the citizens and hike the fees and hike the taxes and expect us to balance the budget," she said.
The council will consider the revised budget at the March 2nd meeting and will vote to accept or reject the plan that night.