Council OKs $25.85M budget for Fiscal 2020


Jasper City Council members passed a $25.85 million budget for Fiscal 2020 during Tuesday morning’s city council meeting. 

The new budget — the largest ever for the city — marks a growth of $350,000 over the current city budget.

“It’s a great budget,” Jasper Mayor David O’Mary said. 

The new budget will provide a 2% pay raise for city employees — the fifth pay hike for employees in the past three years. The 2% figure represents both a step raise and cost of living adjustment. “That mirrors what the state has given state employees,” O’Mary said.

“I can’t say enough about our 190 or so workers who get up and come to work every day,” O’Mary added. “It’s these folks who make the city run, not the mayor of the city council, and to take care of your people is the right thing to do.”

O’Mary credited city clerk Kathy Chambless, city council members and department heads for their hard work in putting together the new budget.

In a breakdown provided by city leaders, total expenditures during the new fiscal year are projected to be $24.4 million. 

O’Mary said he’s most pleased because the new budget includes a surplus of almost $1.5 million.

“It’s something I’m extremely proud of,” he said. 

O’Mary said the city currently has a beginning fund balance of $6.41 million, meaning city coffers will sit at $7.86 million once the $1.45 million surplus from the new budget is figured in.

“A lot of bright minds think we may be about to encounter some strong economic headwinds,” O’Mary said, “so I’m really optimistic that 2020 will be a great year for the city of Jasper.”

The council’s vote to pass the budget comes almost a month ahead of the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. “That’s impressive,” O’Mary said. 

In other business, council members:

•presented a proclamation recognizing September as Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month in the city.

The proclamation said, in part, that “gynecological cancers are among the leading killers of women in the U.S., and more than 98,000 women will be diagnosed with and more than 30,000 women will die from these diseases this year.”

•approved event permits for:

- a POW/MIA ceremony planned for Sept. 20 beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the courthouse square and  hosted by VFW Post 4850

- a Fifth Quarter Block Party set for Oct. 11 from 6 until 11 p.m. at Lavish Coffee Bar.

•adopted a resolution to provide the final payment of $204,457.31 to Schneider Electric for an energy savings project. O’Mary said the total project, which began prior to O’Mary taking office, cost approximately $2.4 million.

•adopted a resolution to set costs for four properties that fell under the city’s nuisance abatement ordinance.

The council also voted to place several properties under the ordinance for being unsafe structures, having overgrown grass and/or weeds or inoperative vehicles on the property.

•adopted an ordinance to amend the city’s zoning ordinance to allow modular homes in certain zoning districts. 

•adopted an ordinance to zone property at 4227 Walker County Lake Road from MR (municipal reserve) to AG (agricultural). The property is located in District 1.

•introduced an ordinance to restrict the retail sale of puppies and kittens to only those sourced from shelters or rescue organizations.