New Year, New Budget, Little Hope

By Eileen Jones - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - You may not have noticed but on Tuesday a new year came and an old year went without any fanfare. We're referring to the city's fiscal year. And now, two days into its 09 fiscal year the city's savings account is half gone - used to prop up a budget that's suffering from the same problems that are plaguing Wall Street and Washington.

Somewhere in the middle of downtown Montgomery is that so-called Main Street those on Wall Street have been talking about. The city's Finance Director Lloyd Faulkner is talking about it too. "People aren't buying. People aren't going out to restaurants and movies and stuff like that. So, this has an indirect affect on the city."

In fact, the city has hit its financial bottom and its reserve fund will be empty at the end of this fiscal year. Faulkner says "If it slides, if it continues to decrease on me then I've got to cut budget again and I don't want to have to do that because if they had cut it again it would have gotten into personnel. It was pretty tight."

So the answer is to build up the city's reserve fund. Faulkner can only guess what will happen next but he thinks there will be $2,000,000  left over from the '08 budget to put back in the reserve account. And, the city has $800,000 coming from gambling establishments before they closed years ago.

$3.2 million will be available if the city council overrides the mayor's veto of the garbage fee increase, and another $3-million if the council also overrides the mayor's objection to a tax increase on just about everything you rent except real estate. That would put about $9-million in the reserve fund which is a far cry from the almost $30 -million in the reserve account before this year. "Do you have any good news to offer at all? We're getting by. We haven't laid anybody off. We haven't cut any services and I think if things stay as stable as they are right now we won't have to do that" says Faulkner.

There's also the issue of increases in the business tax. That still has to be voted on by the city council. Faulkner predicts the business taxes for retailers will go down but the tax for professionals and entertainment concerns like movie theaters will go up.

The government's fiscal year starts at the beginning of October and goes to the end of September.