The Mayor’s fiscal 2019 draft budget was delivered to City Council members on August 10th (10 days before the date required by state statute). Each year my office aims to improve and streamline the budget process and this year is an especially exciting year for the City and its Utility Department.
We will be going over some of the exciting developments in six council work sessions (three of which will be specially called) so that all edits are communicated in public meetings. The financial health of the City has never been better. We can build on our past success and achieve even more progress. I urge the City Council to collaborate with my office to make certain the budget passes in a timely manner this year. Timely implementation of the budget will maximize the financial progress of our City and its departments.
Examples of our financial progress through proper budgeting since taking office in 2016:
- Increased the City’s cash account balances by almost half: From $30 million to $44 million = +$14 million.
- Decreased the City’s debt by almost half. The City of Fairhope debt is now on track to be zero in 2020 (the end of my term in office).
- Decreased the Utility Department debt from $19 million to $15 million.
- Hired experienced professionals in addition to implementing training for our valuable existing employees to achieve greater cost efficiencies.
- Corrected the financial reporting of the City and Utility department financials which enabled us to identify where we needed to cut costs and where to invest in departments to increase revenue. As a result, in the course of two short years of my term, the City is close to being self-reliant despite being without a yearly $6 million utility subsidy as in years past (we were robbing Peter to pay Paul).
The Utility Department is now able to keep more of its profits which will be used for long deferred utility maintenance and infrastructure upgrades which will result in a better product for the citizens of Fairhope. Additional money afforded to the City will be used for community development rather than masking the City’s previously existing deficits.
I strongly encourage the City Council to pass the budget on time this year in a collaborative effort to keep significantly improving the financial position of the City and our Utility Department.