Despite the challenges related to the economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s $338.8 million proposed fiscal year 2021 budget includes an across-the-board 2.5 percent raise for all employees, no cuts to services and level funding for performance contracts.
In a presentation to the Mobile City Council’s finance committee, Executive Director of Finance Paul Wesch said the Port City has fared better than most of its statewide peers during the pandemic.
“Mobile has weathered the storm a little bit better than most,” Wesch said during the Zoom meeting. “We’re hopeful that in 2021 we can weather more storms, whatever they might be; whether it’s a second or third wave or a national recession that reaches down and touches us.”
The city is projecting a 3.2 percent increase in revenue, or $8.2 million, from both sales tax revenue and simplified sellers use tax from online sales.
Comparatively, Birmingham plans on reducing its budget by 20 percent, Wesch said. One reason for the cuts there is a reliance on an occupational tax, which is not paid if employees work from home.
Montgomery is looking to decrease its 2021 budget by 6.9 percent and Tuscaloosa is projecting a $15 million decline in revenue when compared to last year’s spending plan. But it’s not all rosy in Mobile.
Lodgings tax revenue took a 42 percent hit and is down a total of $1.9 million, Deputy Finance Director Cecilia Sapp said. Parking fees, franchise fees and engineering fees are all down, due in large part to the pandemic, Sapp said.
The Capital Improvement Fund will increase by nearly $12 million in fiscal year 2021. In addition to CIP projects, the capital fund will pay for improvements to the Trimier Park football stadium, Mims Park combination field and will be used to pay for an amphitheater at Langan Park.
During the meeting, Councilman Fred Richardson asked for $1 million to be set aside in the capital budget for improvements to St. Stephens Road, which is a U.S. highway.
Despite its planned move from Ladd-Peebles Stadium to Hancock Whitney Stadium and the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming college football season, the city has increased the budget for the 2021 Senior Bowl from $152,300 to $225,000. Wesch said the proposed increase is because the NFL has floated the idea of staying in town longer this year and adding more practice days because so many seniors may not have an opportunity to play a regular season.
About $150,000 slated each year for a football game at Ladd between two Historically Black Colleges and Universities was removed from the budget because the Southwestern Athletic Conference decided not to play football in the fall.
Wesch said the money for the game would be replaced as a budget amendment when the Gulf Coast Challenge game was rescheduled. Richardson asked that the money be replaced before the council votes on the budget.
The council will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget during its 10:30 a.m. regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 1.
This page is available to our local subscribers. Click here to join us today and get the latest local news from local reporters written for local readers. The best deal is found by clicking here. Check it out now.
Already a member of the Lagniappe family? Sign in by clicking here