By William C. Singleton III
Homewood Mayor Scott McBrayer’s proposed 2013-2014 general fund budget anticipates about $40 million in expenses and revenues but doesn’t include cost of living raises, longevity pay or annual bonuses for employees.
McBrayer presented his proposed budget for the new fiscal year to the Homewood City Council on Aug. 26.
However, McBrayer asked the council to reconsider those employee payment enhancements in January or during the mid-year review in March if revenue exceeds projections.
The mayor’s budget includes a contingency fund of $134,315 that could possibly be used to fund cost of living increases if expenses stay in check. A cost of living adjustment cost the city about $330,000 last year, the mayor said.
“Some of the decisions I’ve had to make this year I wasn’t all that excited about,” McBrayer told council members at the Aug. 26 meeting. “But I felt like it was my responsibility to make those decisions, and if you see fit to change some of those, I certainly welcome the opportunity to sit down and work through it together.”
This time of the year, the mayor usually unveils his proposed budget to the council, giving the council time to review, revise and vote on it by Sept. 30. The city’s budget runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30 of each year.
A summary of the proposed budget can be viewed at www.homewoodal.net under “Mayor’s Budget.”
McBrayer said he wanted to present an “honest and accurate” budget, especially since the majority of the 11-member council is working through the budget process for the first time. The most recent city council elections were held in August 2012, and the new council took office in November.
“I believe it’s an honest and accurate budget which for me is the most important thing,” the mayor said. “It may be more important this year that you understand the process and the honesty of what I think the numbers are more so than any other year because it’s your first year.”
The mayor’s budget includes merit raises for employees. Merit raises are given to Homewood employees who are also Jefferson County Personnel employees with up to 10 years on the job. It does not include longevity pay. Longevity pay is Homewood’s way of rewarding employees with more than six years employment with the city.
The mayor’s budget includes a 2.5 percent increase in the amount city employees must contribute to the Retirement Systems of Alabama. A state mandated 5 percent increase in health premiums is being absorbed by the city because employees met wellness screening goals. That 5 percent increase amounts to about $112,000 over 12 months, said Melody Salter, the city’s finance director.
McBrayer also recommended the city establish a public service department, which should save Homewood about $80,000 next year.
The mayor also proposed a $4.28 million capital budget, which sets aside money for the expansion of the Shades Creek Greenway Trail, improvements to West Oxmoor Road and the acquisition of vehicles for the police, parks and recreation and sanitation departments.
Council President Bruce Limbaugh commended the mayor and department heads for the work they put into the budget and said they should expect the same from the council.
“The council will be putting in a lot of extra hours in the next 30 to 60 days,“ Limbaugh said.