Parakeets help city budget soar - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Parakeets help city budget soar

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The new Zoofari Skylift at the Montgomery Zoo. The new Zoofari Skylift at the Montgomery Zoo.
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Another budget year is in the books and the City of Montgomery is in the black.

The 2012 fiscal year ended September 30th and city finance officials say they're starting to see growth after the recession.

But it took a team effort to get there.

Believe it or not, the tiny Parakeets at the Montgomery Zoo impact the city's big picture.

"Every little bit helps," says Montgomery Finance Director Lloyd Faulkner.

Faulkner believes a simple $2 fee to feed the birds at the Montgomery Zoo contributed somewhat to the $800,000 dollar surplus the city experienced at the end of the 2012 fiscal year.

The Montgomery Zoo and other city departments responded to a challenge from Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange a few years ago when the economy was at it's worst. He asked them to see if they could generate more revenue on their own to lessen the burden on the city. And it's working.

"The more revenue they have the less the general fund has to subsidize," adds Faulkner.

"Over the past year, it was a little over $200,000 dollars."

That's how much Montgomery Zoo Director Doug Goode says three new attractions generated after only months in operation.

Giraffe and Parakeet feeding, and the brand new Zoofari Skylift--which opened in August--made enough money to give some back to the city.

Not only that, Goode says interest in the zoo is renewed.

"People are really enjoying it and they like the opportunities to do different things when they come to the zoo."

The zoo is just one of the many entities working to generate new money--police, fire and public transportation departments are too.

The Montgomery Fire Department generated about $300,000 dollars in 2012.

Finance officials say Montgomery is experiencing roughly 2 to 3% growth each year which is slightly above the national average.

Sales tax revenue is also rising and Faulkner says it's a big reason he believes the city's bottom line will keep growing.

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