MOBILE, Ala. – The Mobile City Council unanimously approved Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s revised budget for 2014 Tuesday. Two months after taking office Mayor Stimpson annouced he was going to redo the budget that was approved by the previous administration. Stimpson said he was concerned about a 4.3 million dollar deficit in the general fund, and he said he had issues with all the departments.
It was the first time in nearly a decade that all seven council members gave approval to a proposed budget. The unanimous vote comes five months into the fiscal year. That too is rare.
Council Member Levon Manzie said the budget is not perfect, but he’s confident the city is now moving forward.
“I have been assured as a result of this action no employees will be furloughed, no employees health insurance premiums will arbitrarily be increased, and no first responders will be terminated,” Manzie said.
City council member Bess Rich said it’s her first yes vote on a budget since the mid 90’s.
“I feel very good about it. I think we’re on the right track. and of course the administration has worked with the department heads, and of course that’s been a long time coming too,” Rich said.
Council member John Williams also supports the budget which includes nearly 400 revisions, but Williams said it wasn’t necessary.
“I would like to make it very clear at this meeting I don’t think that this whole process is required. It is the mayor’s responsibility has I’ve said for seven years to maintain our financial stability and to meet the financial obligations of Mobile, Alabama,” Williams said.
“I’m going to start up front by saying I am going to vote for the amendments, because what the mayor has done is legal. I have issues with what’s being done,” Council member Fred Richardson said.
Fred Richardson was the most vocal critic of the budget. When auditors discovered a 4.3 million dollar deficit in the General Fund account, Richardson says the city could have easily looked to one its 43 other accounts.
“We could have gone to one of those account, moved 4.3 million dollars over there and kept on rolling. That’s what the mayors have done in the past. Naw,,we received 394 amendments,” Richardson said.
“It is not a simple budget, it is not a simple process to do it that way. So we did it the simplest way we knew how to do it,” Mayor Stimpson said.
Mayor Stimpson said he’s excited and grateful the council gave his budget unanimous support. He said his staff will begin tackling the 2015 budget in six to eight weeks.