Wiregrass Newsroom: Spending trends taking a toll on Dothan city budget

Dothan, AL (WSFA) -- For Rhonda Willis, the economy plays a big role in her family's current spending habits.

"We do think a lot longer before we make a big outlay of cash, whereas before we might not have thought so long about it," says Willis.

She says it means putting some things on hold.

"A new television, is something that I know we're going to have to invest in in the real near future.  Because of the economy, we're not making that commitment yet."

It's this kind of spending city leaders rely on, but a reaction they expected from consumers. With sales tax revenue down a total of $1.2 million dollars this year, they're working to make the shortfall work for Dothan.

"What we're trying to do is come up with a contingency plan," says Dothan City Manager, Mike West.

Luckily for city leaders, this year's budget has a $4.5 million dollar surplus to account for shortfalls in tax revenue.

"While it won't allow us to do everything, it will allow us to survive," says West.

Survival mode for the city means not hiring any more employees right now and putting some improvement projects and maintenance on hold. But West says Dothan is a hub for shopping and medical activity--two things helping offset the crunch.

"I think that all bodes well for our position in this region. It's good to sort-of re-evaluate what you're doing and how you're doing, and I think that's what this is a time for us all to do."

And the economy is causing Rhonda to do just that.

"It will definitely have an influence on not just the short term, but the long term spending."

It's a mindset city officials hope doesn't cost the city progress.

Reporter: Melissa McKinney