At the county Mayors Association meeting last week, most of the mayors said their budgets projected growth for fiscal 2011.
“I think we’ve turned a corner,” said Riverside Mayor Rusty Jessup. “Everything from here on will be growth.” Riverside’s budget shows a $32,000 cushion, but that has come after a number of cuts this year.
Both Ashville and Pell City are seeing more solid revenues, their mayors report, after raising sales taxes.
Pell City Mayor Bill Hereford said earlier this week that the sales tax increase passed in April should produce an additional $1 million in revenue for fiscal 2011. “I think we have a reasonable expectancy that we can live within the budget,” Hereford said. He predicted Pell City would have a small reserve fund. “Not a 10 percent reserve, but some reserve.”
Ashville Mayor Robert McKay said that after three years of $75,000 deficits, “this year is looking better.” Ashville increased both its sales tax and its water rate and made cuts in the Police Department to move toward solvency. “We had to do it,” McKay said.
Springville and Argo are still working on their budgets, and while their mayors tried to be optimistic, both towns are in crisis and their mayors are looking at cutting employees and services. “Before we finalize our budget, we’re going to have to prioritize our needs,” said Springville Mayor William Isley. Argo Mayor Paul Jennings sounded the same note: “If the economy doesn’t change, everybody’s going to have to cut.”
So while everyone’s putting the best face on it, the economy is still a problem for St. Clair cities.