Mayor: Budget built ‘from scratch’ this time

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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson has revealed a new 2014 City Budget Thursday, March 13. He also released a Fact Sheet that explains the amended budget.

The budget does not include furloughs or layoffs but nearly every department is facing cuts.

The 2014 budget was first adopted at the end of last year, before Stimpson took office. The city’s auditing firm later discovered the city was living beyond its means, so Stimpson’s administration went back to the drawing board.

The audit determined $21.6 million needed to be cut in order for the budget to be balanced.  But city officials also projected an improving economy bringing in $8.6 million for 2014, bringing the total deficit to $13 million.

The mayor said department heads were asked to build his or her budget from scratch and present their needs. Stimpson said they worked tirelessly to find savings.

The cuts include about $5.7 million from the police department, $879,648 from the fire department and about $6.6 million from public works.

Some sub-departments saw an increase in their budget including $58,516 for the Mobile Museum of Art and $10,462 for Keep Mobile Beautiful.

Stimpson plans to save most money from three places: reigning in overtime, attrition (which means counting on a reduced workforce through things like retirement) and not filling budgeted positions.

If the city council does not approve this budget, Stimpson said the result will be nuclear.

“If we have to live by the budget that they passed – to do that you’re, going to have to do some catastrophic things regarding personnel to make sure your expenses don’t exceed revenue,” said Stimpson.

City councilman Fred Richardson may need a bit more convincing. He said he does not think the budget needs changing.

“He created a situation saying we are in some sort of emergency, and my point is, if the financial house is on fire and I can’t smell the smoke, forget about seeing the smoke, if I can’t smell the smoke, I doubt it’s on fire,” said Richardson.

The city council now has the budget and will be asking questions over the next week. We will let you know when a vote is scheduled.

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