The Rainsville City Council approved its budget for the 2020 fiscal year during Monday night’s budget meeting.
The 2020 budget was set at $4.51 million by the city accountant, Betty Holcomb, and the city council.
Holcomb said the budget was based on an average of the last two years and the payroll was calculated using the current pay rate.
“The benefits have been adjusted for changes that we know; we just found out the health insurance premiums will go up to 4.9 percent,” Holcomb said.
Mayor Rodger Lingerfelt said the budget “goes up to around 3.5 percent per year.”
The councilmen and Lingerfelt combed through each department, discussing the amount of the budget for each, as well the fluctuation of expenditures.
Lingerfelt and the four present councilmen, with the absence of councilman BeJan Taheri, discussed their concerns at Monday night's meeting. One of the topics of interest was the employee raises, which were not included in the new fiscal year budget.
Councilman Derek Rosson brought up the discussion of the pay rate gap between the first responders in Rainsville and those in neighboring communities. Rosson suggested the retention of personnel would cut down on expenditures in the Rainsville Police Department. Councilman Byrum said he was not changing his mind about what they do regarding their emergency personnel raises.
“These guys have a lot of different training than what some of the other employees have,” Byrum said.
Rosson added the “revolving door is killing us.”
Byrum suggested bringing in an outside agency such as Jacksonville State University to help with setting the pay rate across the board.
“Really and truly what we ought to do is bring someone in from Jacksonville State [University] to come in and do a survey on our raises and the way the pay structure is set,” he said.
Councilman Brandon Freeman said he didn’t want to sound negative toward anyone, but he wants to see an increase across the board.
“I want to be able to come to this table and support every department in the city,” he said.
He said he would like to give everyone a benefit, not just certain departments.
“I want to do [raises] across the board because it’s not just our police department and fire department that our salaries are lacking compared to others,” Freeman said.
Rosson also suggested figuring out ways to bring in more volunteers for the departments.
Lingerfelt praised both the police department and the fire department. “I am very proud of the job they get done,” he said.
The council agreed to discuss the raises at next week’s council meeting.
Freeman and the rest of the council members mentioned the notable improvement, which was a result of the replacement of the LED light. Freeman said the improvement reflected on the new budget.
Other topics of interest included:
• public safety vehicle replacement
• placement of a fire hydrant near the Cornerstone Christian Academy
• 2020 election expenditures
• auto maintenance
• library basement renovations/update
The proposed, revised budget passed unanimously. The next council meeting is scheduled Oct. 7, with a workshop at 4:15 p.m. and regular session at 5 p.m