Alabaster approves $85.7M budget, including funds for police, parks, road improvements

By NATHAN HOWELL | Special to the Reporter 

ALABASTER – The Alabaster City Council approved an $85.7 million budget on Sept. 21, which set aside money for ongoing projects including the new police station, improvements to Veterans Park and expansion to Alabama 119.

For the city’s general fund, the budget is anticipating revenues totaling $37.2 million, with estimated expenditures of $36.9 million.

After accounting for capital projects, the city is anticipating a $4.9 million deficit in spending, however this money is made up by monies set aside from surpluses each year in preparation for large capital projects.

“We are anticipating finishing the year this year with $3 million of surplus in the general fund, which we will transfer to the capital projects fund at the end of this month, and we finished last year with a $2.4 million surplus, which we also transferred to the fund,” explained City Finance Director John Haggard. “That will more than offset the $4.9 million deficit for the capital projects fund we are showing for next year.”

Capital projects for the year will see the city spend an estimated $21 million. This will include construction of the city’s new police station, which Haggard said they city is budgeting to cost around $16.5 million.

Other projects for the year will include finishing Veterans Park, budgeted for $4.5 million, completing the Alabama119 expansion, priced at $1.6 million, and $1.1 million for public safety radio tower upgrades.

“This is all money that has been set aside,” Haggard said. “Through Veterans Park and 119, we are not borrowing any money for those, it’s all money that we have saved.”

The city expects to end the current fiscal year on Sept. 30 with around $3 million in surplus to transfer to the capital funds balance, which will help offset the cost of those projects.

According to Haggard, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the city was not sure if there would be any kind of revenue increase. That forced them to try to spend as conservatively as possible, which allowed for there to still be an increase in revenue.

“We wanted to make sure we acted appropriately and that we planned for the worst. We froze capital spending and new hires anticipating revenue decreases,” Haggard said. “We are on pace for a 2-percent revenue increase, where the three years prior our average revenue growth was a little over 4.5 percent.”