Council passes $8.7 million budget
The Russellville City Council passed the largest budget in city history Monday night.
The $8,795,950 budget includes a five-percent pay raise for city employees and allocates $1.4 million to the city school system. That is a $400,000 increase from the current year’s budget, which was cut last September.
“It’s the biggest budget the city has ever published,” Mayor Troy Oliver said.
Most all expenses remained flat except for the across-the-board personnel raises and the increase in the school’s allocation.
Oliver said sales tax in the city had increased since April, due in large part to more people shopping in the city following the April 27 tornado, and that alcohol sales tax revenues were continuing to grow.
“It put us in good shape to help the city employees and the schools at this time,” Oliver said.
The funding includes $25,000 for teacher’s classroom supplies, $5,000 for repairs to the truck used by the high school’s Marching Hundred band and $50,000 to purchase iPads that will be used to download text book material, Oliver said.
City schools superintendent Rex Mayfield said the increase in allocations will allow the system to keep personnel they would have otherwise lost.
“We appreciate the mayor and council for their appropriation, especially when funding is so tight across the board,” Mayfield said.
Though the council did unanimously pass the budget, there was some contention over the way it was prepared.
City Councilman Jeff Masterson said that he had never seen the budget until late Monday and felt the council and department heads should have had more say in its preparation.
“I’m tickled to death to be able to give our employees a raise and to help the schools,” Masterson said.
“I just don’t like the way it was handled. I think that we are way overly optimistic about our sales tax revenue, but I couldn’t vote down something that helps our employees and our schools. I have been trying to help them for three years and haven’t been able to.”
Councilman David Grissom said he compared the budget to numbers that he had prepared on his own and felt the budget was mostly in line to what he had seen.
“It was a very aggressive approach in predicting the growth in sales tax,” Grissom said.
“It is more important now than ever that we provide every opportunity for people to shop at home. The growth of the city and the school system depends on people shopping in Russellville.”
Sales tax revenue growth is projected to increase by more than 10 percent based on the new budget with alcohol sales tax revenue to more than triple.