City officials OK 2011-2012 budget
by David Lazenby
Dec 07, 2011 | 1398 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jasper City Council members Lee Swann, left, and Gary Cowen share a laugh during Tuesday’s council meeting at City Hall. - Photo by: David Lazenby
Jasper City Council members Lee Swann, left, and Gary Cowen share a laugh during Tuesday’s council meeting at City Hall. - Photo by: David Lazenby
Jasper officials on Tuesday approved the 2011-2012 budget during a regularly-scheduled meeting of the Jasper City Council.

The $16.65 million budget includes step raises for all city employees that will increase their pay by 2.5 percent. Jasper workers will see the increase in the first paychecks issued in January.

Because the fiscal year began on Oct. 1, Council President Sandi Sudduth asked whether the raises could be retroactive so that Jasper employees would be paid as if the raises were received at the start of the fiscal year.

However, city attorney Russ Robertson said state law forbids the city from this type of pay compensation that rewards workers for past services rendered.

“In other words, a retroactive bonus or even pay increase is actually contrary to the provisions of state law,” Robertson said.

Because the new fiscal year had already begun while city officials were still working to complete the new city budget, officials voted at a Nov. 1 Council meeting to continue to use the budget from the previous fiscal year for 30 days.

Jasper Mayor Sonny Posey said although the budget was not approved until two months after the current fiscal year began, the delay was “not unusual.”

“I’ve been here, except for four years, since 1992 either as a council member or a mayor,” he said during an interview following Tuesday’s Council meeting. “If you look back ... this happens more times than not.”

Prior to passing the budget, the Council approved some amendments to the budget previously presented during Council work sessions.

Also, the Council approved a budget policy statement that City Clerk Kathy Chambless said will get all city officials “on the same wavelength about how we’re going to treat overages in revenue and line transfers in department budgets.”

At a previous Council work session, Councilor Lee Swann proposed that officials look at other city’s policies regarding budget policies. Chambless said the Jasper policy was based on the policies of the cities of Tuscaloosa and Hoover.

The budget policy statement gives city councilors the authority to amend the budget as necessary to provide for under-budgeted or over-budgeted revenue.

The document states, “In the event that revenues exceed the budget, the Council may at its discretion provide funding to various projects, department line items or designate such funds into the fund balance as it is projected will be available.”

The policy also states the city clerk or other administrator shall provide projections every quarter of the actual revenue received as compared to budgeted revenue.

Posey said work on the budget by the Council, city clerk and others involved in the process “set the stage” for some necessary changes.

“I want to thank you for taking the time — time well spent — to come up with what I think is an excellent budget,” Posey said.