Piedmont finance committee discusses city budget
by Laura Gaddy
lbgaddy@annistonstar.com
Sep 25, 2013 | 2666 views |  0 comments | 72 72 recommendations | email to a friend | print
PIEDMONT — The finance committee of the Piedmont City Council met Tuesday to discuss for the first time the city’s proposed 2014 $11 million budget.

The council plans to take in $11 million in revenue in fiscal year 2014, which begins Oct. 1. It also plans to spend roughly $9.9 million during the same time.

The council will look at the budget during an upcoming work session and vote on it during a later meeting. However, one finance committee member said Tuesday that the numbers worry him.

“This proposal here is just a little bit on the high side,” said Councilman Frank Cobb, referring to the city’s income.

Though Cobb questioned the revenue projections in the 2014 budget, city finance officials said the numbers are based on the amount of money the city is collecting this year. City Clerk Michelle Franklin said those numbers are up slightly.

Franklin said sales tax revenue was projected at $1.6 million for the current fiscal year. With three months — July, August and September — to be added to city records, Piedmont has already collected 91 percent of that.

Franklin also said the city is collecting more money from the utility department, because it has stepped up collection efforts. And, based on those increases, the city is planning to receive $135,000 more than it did in the 2013 fiscal year, bringing 2014’s total to $4.3 million collected from electricity customers.

Total general fund revenues are projected to be $3.7 million, but utility revenues are accounted for separately; they make up for the bulk of Piedmont’s income. In addition to revenue for electrical services the city expects to receive $1.5 million for gas service and about $1.3 million for water and sewer service.

Cobb also noted that the city didn’t budget to make upgrades to its power system, water treatment plant or sewer lines. The systems have been needing upgrades, but officials said they don’t know when the city will begin making the improvements.

“I’m worried,” Cobb said.

Franklin said the city doesn’t routinely budget for such projects, but amends the budget to pay for improvements on an as-needed basis. She said the city doesn’t have the money to make infrastructure improvements now.

“The only option would be to take out another bond,” she said.

Mayor Rick Freeman is not a committee member but attended the meeting. He told council members to remember that the budget is a financial plan for the city that might be amended.

“This is more of like a working tool,” Freeman said.

Franklin offered to amend the budget, based on Cobb’s concerns. But committee Chairwoman Mary Bramblett asked her to wait until the entire council has the chance to discuss the document at a work session.

Top five Piedmont general fund revenue sources:

1.) Local sales and use tax: $1.7 million.

2.) Charges for city services: $622,000

3.) County Property taxes: $330,000

4.) Reimbursements and other miscellaneous income: $285,000

5.) Licenses and permits: $247,000

Revenue projections from Piedmont utilities

1.) Electrical $4.2 million

2.) Gas $1.5 million

3.) Water $953,000

4.) Sewer $375,000

Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LGaddy_Star.

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