Dothan city leaders approve 2020, 2021 operating and capital budget

Dothan city leaders approve 2020, 2021 operating and capital budget

DOTHAN, Ala. (WSFA) - Dothan city leaders nailed down the city’s financial future for the next two fiscal years.

At Tuesday’s city commission meeting, commissioners approved the Biennium Operating and Capital Budget for fiscal years 2020 and 2021.

The 2020 budget is roughly $255 million. The 2021 budget is slightly less at $240 million. The city manager attributes the dip to fewer capital projects planned for 2021.

Mayor Mark Saliba says he’s pleased with the numbers crunched and now approved for the city.

“I feel good about where we are with our budget. We are in a great place to be able to discuss increasing road infrastructure and pay to all our employees,” said Saliba.

But the yes vote to the budget didn’t come without discussion from commissioners about revisiting pay for law enforcement personnel in the near future.

Commissioner Kevin Dorsey, Commissioner Janasky Fleming, Commissioner Beth Kenward, and Commissioner John Ferguson all chimed in about the need for law enforcement pay to increase. They also expressed a desire to raise salaries within the next few months - even after the budget is approved.

The city is looking to a pay study to determine how much more they’ll pay law enforcement.

“The resolution reads as where the pay study should begin in the beginning of October and take about 90 days or so. Hopefully by the end of this year and first of next year, we’ll know where we’re at,” said Ferguson.

“A lot will come out of that study,” said Kenward. “I was very encouraged that we put that resolution in there saying none of this is set in stone. This is what we’ve set out to do, but we have the flexibility based on the study.”

The budget resolution also included a section that approves a 2 percent general wage increase of appointed and seasonal employees and a 3 percent general wage increase for law enforcement - including police, fire, and public safety. The effective pay date is Oct. 1.

The city will continue to fund Dothan City Schools with about 4-5 million going to the system from the 2020 budget, according to Saliba.

The 2020 budget also includes new capital improvement projects ranging from transportation projects to quality of life projects.

One of the projects that’s created the most buzz is the city’s investment in Water World. The city has budgeted roughly $2.7 million for improvements to the municipally owned park.

In the first phase, expected to be done by May, the city is adding new slides to the amusement park. 800,000 had been budgeted for materials for the slide, commissioners learned that quotes have come back under budget at 580,000.

“In everything in life you want to stay relevant and we have not invested in Water World for many many years. Investing in these new slides and attractions keeps us relevant,” said Kenward.

City commissioners also expressed excitement over a combined Capital Improvement Fund for the fiscal years of 2020 and 2021.

“Take several reserve lines and rolled them under one umbrella of capital improvements,” said Kenward. “Any time we made a reserve line of budget for something like sewer drainage we would always take that money, put it to the side, and invest in a CD or something. If you have six of these line item budgets with this little amount of money that interest you make is not quite as much as if you pooled it all together.”

“It readily enables us to connect our strategic planning to the budgeting process to see how projects can be realized,” said Kevin Cowper, City Manager.

The city also unveiled a new website design during Tuesday’s commission meeting. The website is live now.

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