MOBILE – The Mobile City Council on Tuesday passed the fiscal year 2016 budget, with only a few changes from Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s original proposal.
The council’s version, which was approved by a 6-1 vote, increased funding to performance contractors, the council’s discretionary accounts, as well as the Boys and Girls Clubs, while cutting funding to the WAVE transportation system.
The council approved an amendment that would cut $703,640 from a more than $6.2 million transfer from the General Fund to Wave and allocate the money to other areas of the budget. For instance, the amendment added $70,000 to council discretionary, $60,000 to City Council operating, $4,000 to the James Seals’ Marching Tiger band. The amendment also included $35,000 for the Boys and Girls Clubs, which would be used for a summer program at Gilliard Elementary School.
Councilman C.J. Small, who represents a portion of Dauphin Island Parkway, added this provision to the original budget amendment to help provide summer recreation and education to children in the area.
In addition, the amendment would add $367,000 from the general fund to the convention center budget. Of that, $352,000 would go to the Mobile Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau and $15,000 would go to Events Mobile. The amendment also transfers the $98,000 budgeted to BayFest to the Mobile Bay CVB.
The amendment also includes a $167,640 increase in performance contracts. Among the highlights is an increase of $75,000 to the performance contract of Via! in Midtown.
With the vote the council approved the rest Stimpson’s proposed $234 million general fund budget, which includes a 2.5 percent cost of living raise for employees, with the opportunity for another raise later in the year.
From Nov. 14 to Jan. 12 Cooper Riverside Park will include a temporary ice skating rink, after the council voted 5-2 to approve a $132,000 agreement with Magic Ice USA. Councilwoman Bess Rich and C.J. Small voted against the measure.
Stimpson told councilors before the vote that the administration had secured $50,000 in private sponsorships and were looking at another $20,000 coming in for a title sponsor.
Stimpson’s Chief of Staff Colby Cooper said the city expects to pay $150,000 total, including utilities on the 55-day rental. That means nearly half the total cost of the rink would be paid for by sponsors. At $8 to $12 per skater, Cooper said the city would break even with an average of 100 skaters per day. Councilman Levon Manzie encouraged the administration to keep working on securing more sponsors for the rink.
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