Mayflower officials will approve the city’s proposed 2018 budget during December’s city council meeting Monday night.
Aldermen rescheduled the meeting that usually takes place at 7 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month due to the holidays. The December meeting is set to begin at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 18 at city hall.
"This budget is going to be the most conservative I’ve ever seen," Mayor Randy Holland said.
The city’s financial director, Dale Carter, met with Holland and city council members on Dec. 6 to discuss Mayflower’s proposed 2018 budget.
"I’ll say it again like I did last year, if we adopt this budget, we darn sure have to feed it," he said during the budget meeting. "We can’t let the cash continue to go down like this."
In recent years, Mayflower has seen little improvements in its general fund. The city also had to pay a $64,999 settlement to a former Mayflower officer in October, which was paid for with money out of the general fund.
Carter said the city’s financial standing has reached a critical state.
"Based on what we know now, we don’t want to be optimistic," he said. "We want to be as real as we can and that’s where it’s at right now. We have no reason to expect any revenue increase or decrease."
According to the proposed budget discussed during the Dec. 6 workshop, the city will start off the year with $1,320,015 in its general fund. However, $1,292,209 is already budgeted out, leaving only $27,806 in the general fund if the city does not see an increase in its revenues.
City officials pinched pennies where ever possible throughout planning out the 2018 budget.
No general cost-of-living adjustments have been budgeted for city employees.
"Additionally, no provision has been made in this budget for a pay rate step-increase for the police department employees," Carter said.
When the city announced its general fund was in distress, it also laid off one of the city’s full-time officers. Holland said it was a necessary move until better revenues found their way back to Mayflower. Holland cited declining sales tax revenues when announcing the layoff.
The Mayflower Police Department, which patrols 24/7, consisted of seven full-time and three part-time officers until the Oct. 23 city council meeting. The department now functions with six full-time officers. Five of those officers patrol the streets while the sixth is dedicated to the schools as Mayflower’s school resource officer.
The Log Cabin Democrat later learned the officer’s firing would not affect the city’s financial situation. He had not worked with the city long enough to affect the city’s financial standing, nor would it improve the city’s financial standing by eliminating his position, Carter said.
City officials looked toward other sources of improving the city’s financial bind while budgeting for 2018 during the budget workshop.
Alderman opted out of budgeting out $5,000 for a new mower.
The council also questioned a line item in the street fund.
"Are there complaints from the citizens? Is the street department saying we need to get this done," Alderman Brian Williams asked of a $46,000 proposal to be paid for road assessments.
When creating the 2018 budget proposal, Carter initially budgeted out $25,000 under the street fund’s Professional and Engineering Services tab. However, he said he later learned the company the city works with, GeoTech, would cost $46,000 to assess the conditions on Dogwood Drive.
"Is this something we could delay," Williams asked Jimmy Johnson of the street department.
Johnson said he patched the road five years ago, but that more improvements are necessary.
"It’s an ongoing problem," Johnson said of the conditions on Dogwood Drive. "We’re [the street department] not complaining about it so much as the residents on Dogwood. They wanted it fixed right the first time."
Holland said paying GeoTech to come in and assess Dogwood Drive was crucial to getting the city’s streets up to par.
"It’s one of the last projects we’ve got," he said. "We’re up to 98 percent on all the streets and drains. It’s one of the last streets and we did that on purpose in the very beginning because it’s going to be one of the most expensive projects."
The $46,000 would not go toward reconstructing the road. Holland said he foresees that project to cost closer to $500,000.
He said GeoTech is responsible for coming to assess the road conditions and determine what process to take when reconstructing the road and what it would cost the city.
"We’re not asking to fix the problem in this budget," Holland said. "We’re asking to find out how much it’s going to cost to fix."
Alderman will vote during Monday’s council meeting whether to approve the proposed budget.