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Hartselle Enquirer

Hartselle projects budget surplus based on midyear numbers 

By Jean Cole 

For the Enquirer  

  

The city of Hartselle is on track to collect $325,000 to $350,000 more in revenue than it had budgeted for this fiscal year based on midyear numbers, according to Mayor Randy Garrison. 

The roughly 1% surplus over the fiscal year budget shows “people supporting the city and local businesses,” the mayor said. 

Garrison recently gave council members his midyear budget review reflecting how much of the individual departmental budgets like police, fire and public works had been spent midway through the fiscal year, which began Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30. Garrison said that midyear expenditures have been 45.4% of the budgeted expenditures for the full year. 

“This is not unusual,” Garrison said of the projected surplus, which will be put in the general fund. “Normally, the last few years we’ve had larger sales tax increases. We try to budget reasonably. We don’t do pie-in-the-sky budgeting. We try to be very fiscally responsible with our budgets, but in the last few years we’ve had several increases in revenue.” 

How this surplus will be spent will be up to council members in the city of 15,544 people, the mayor said. 

“That would be something (they) would have to approve,” he said. 

Budget surpluses can help a city buy vehicles, obtain equipment and complete projects its residents want for their city. 

“We appreciate our folks supporting our local businesses, and I try to let people know how much I appreciate that,” the mayor said. “We’ve been able to do a lot of things in the past few years that we were not able to do before because of more revenue.” 

This includes replacing equipment in all departments in the past eight years, obtaining new police cars, ordering a third fire engine and buying vehicles for the Public Works Department, he said. 

“Last year, we spent $1.6 million on new lights at Sparkman Park,” the mayor said. “We replaced all of the lights with LED lights, and we just finished a master plan to revamp many areas of the park, which will be a multiyear project.” 

Council President Kenny Thompson attributes some of the annual surplus to legalizing the sale of alcohol in the city. Hartselle legalized the sale of alcohol Jan. 3, 2017. 

Thompson, who has been a councilman since the 1980s, said it used to be that the mayor and council never had any money to do anything. 

“Ten years ago, we didn’t have money to buy firetrucks, police cars, and we had to lay off one person in every department just to make ends meet,” Thompson said. “We’ve just been amazed how much money there is from going wet.” 

The COVID-19 epidemic also increased local revenue because more people were working from home and thus shopping locally, he said. 

Thompson said he would like to see the additional money spent on the projects already in the planning stages: the new library or the new event center. 

“Maybe the leftover can be put on those two projects,” he said. 

Council President Pro-Tem Dwight Tankersley said he would wait and see where the need is to determine where the midyear surplus should go. “I will listen to the department heads, it could be used there,” he said. Tankersley added that any of the three major projects planned — the event center, library and fire station — could go over budget and the additional money would be needed.  

“You hope they come in under budget, but it could go there,” he said. 

The midyear budget review tells the mayor and other officials what percentage of expected revenue has been collected so far as well as what percentage of expenditures have been spent.  

“If we keep going in the same direction,” Garrison said, “we should collect $17,807,261 (by the end of the year), which is a 1% increase” over the fiscal revenue budget. 

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Hartselle projects budget surplus based on midyear numbers 

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