City Council reviews mayor’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2023

Published on September 15, 2022

The Huntsville City Council considered Mayor Tommy Battle’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2023 during a business session Sept. 15. The mayor proposed a balanced budget, which includes $281 million in general fund operations and $104.5 million in capital projects. Public safety, road resurfacing, infrastructure improvement and quality of life remain a priority.

Remarks from Mayor Battle

“Hello Council members and thank you for taking the time to review the 2022-2023 City of Huntsville Budget. This is the 14th budget this administration has presented for the city of Huntsville, since 2009.

This budget responds to the needs of a growing city full of opportunities, challenges and promise. We added new businesses, jobs, housing and entertainment – ​​for residents and for our tax base. There is an opportunity – for a job and for a better job to earn more money. Opportunity offers the citizens of Huntsville the chance to be part of our prosperity.

We have expanded our road network. The city of Huntsville now has 3,451 miles of municipal roads to maintain, and that’s not counting the vast number of miles of local roads maintained by the state and federal government.

We added more people. The largest city in the state of Alabama by population, we now have approximately 227,000 citizens.

Most importantly, we’ve planned for the growth our city is experiencing, and this budget reflects our preparedness for it.

We have faced challenges head-on over the past 14 years of budgets, and we have done so successfully to make our city a better place. First and foremost, the challenge of balancing the budget. This year is no different from the others. We have always had a demand for funding in excess of our ability to pay. We, the government, should have to make tough budget choices — and prioritize spending on what’s essential for the city. Our administration has worked hard to achieve this.

“Council members, I am proud to present to you a balanced budget this year. If there are additions, there must be deletions – please keep this in mind during our budget discussions.

In this balanced budget, we address and emphasize public safety, infrastructure and employee retention. Three critical areas for the city.

The safety of the streets of our city is of paramount importance. We are providing the means to achieve this objective in this budget. In public safety, we are adding 24 positions to the 791 officers and civilian staff of the Huntsville Police Department and 18 firefighters from the Fire and Rescue Department who work together daily to keep our city safe. Citizens of Huntsville – you are safe.

Another area that is included in public safety and infrastructure is public works. Thanks to this budget, we can add 29 workers to their ranks. Ten is about increasing the number of sanitation workers to fill these ever-expanding sanitation and debris removal roads – to keep our city clean. The other 19 will be used to open another service area for public works, to have a dedicated team in each section of the city to repair roads, clean up easements/rights of way and take care of drainage.

On the infrastructure side of the budget, we are beginning to fund Restore our Roads 2. This highway program is a partnership between the City of Madison, Madison County, the Alabama Department of Highways, and the Governor’s Office to build, expand and improve seven roads in the Huntsville, Madison and Madison County area.

These include:

  • Highway 72 East from I-565 to Shields
  • Jordan Lane/Highway 53 widening from Tauras Drive to Old RR Bed
  • Six-lane I-565 from Countyline Road to Wall-Triana Hwy
  • I-565 and Memorial Parkway Interchange Improvements
  • Highway 72 West Providence Main to Countyline Road
  • Resolute Way Interchange (just west of Research Park Blvd)
  • East Arsenal Connector (Sparkman Drive exit to Patton Road)

Additional infrastructure spending of over $19 million for street maintenance and repaving and $800,000 for sidewalks. This is the highest funding the City has ever provided for road maintenance.

The infrastructures also cover many other needs and amenities: parks, greenways, public services, cycle paths, commercial and recreational offers. All are covered in this document. You have a healthy and robust infrastructure budget.

One of the final challenges we addressed in this order is our City of Huntsville workforce. Over the past year, we have achieved many accolades and rankings that reflect our city well. These rankings and distinctions are not possible without a dedicated municipal workforce. It is the same workforce, as COVID-19 raged during the pandemic, that came to work day after day. Our staff made sure the public knew Huntsville was open for business.

With inflation reducing the purchasing power of every dollar and fierce competition for workers, some City employees are moving elsewhere for higher wages. In turn, the search for this experienced team member is much more difficult. This year, we are requesting a 5% cost-of-living (COLA) salary increase in our workforce budget. Five percent is compared to 1, 2 and 3% COLA in the past – but these are amazing times.

This budget also reflects a new salary scale for the 24th year. This allows the city’s top six employees to participate at a level ranging from $121,339 per year to a maximum rate of $205,938. Many other towns monitor the town of Huntsville. When you get a number one ranking, others see your top management as a cure for their ills; poaching is active. If we give our leadership team members the task of managing millions of dollars and leading thousands of people, we must pay competitively.

The city that can attract and retain the best employees will be the competitive city of tomorrow. We must be that city.

In summary, in this balanced budget, we address and emphasize public safety, infrastructure and employee retention. Three critical areas for the city. Many other areas are important, and I will ask Penny Smith, our CFO, to explain the budget in depth.

WATCH ON DEMAND: Huntsville City Council Budget Working Session, September 15, 2022

RELATED LINKS: Mayor Battle Presents FY23 Budget to City Council

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