The Alexander City City Council met for one last work session Wednesday afternoon before it will convene for its Monday meeting where it will vote on the 2020 fiscal year budget. 

The council whittled the overall budget down from what it originally started with at its first work session in September. The city’s proposed budget has $55.56 million in revenue with $52.7 million in operating expenses translating to an operating gain of $2.3 million, according to finance director Sandy Stanbrough. 

Stanbrough said according to 2017 unaudited, the city has a fun balance of $19.6 million. At one of the previous work sessions, Mayor Tommy Spraggins explained the fun balance as the city being like its own bank. He said while the city doesn’t want to have to dip into the funds, it’s a comfort to have them. 

There are $5.855 million in capital expenses. The municipal complex will need $1.8 million in additional funding, which is estimated based off the lowest bid the city received for contracting work.

“We feel very confident that with planning, the operating expenses and the capital the way we have, we’re likely again in 2020 to come in below budget and we’re expecting revenue to be actually above budget,” Stanbrough said.

If the proposed budget is approved, all local organizations with financial requests will receive the same amount of funds that were approved last fiscal year, as the council came to an agreement to keep appropriations what they were in fiscal year 2019. This means organizations that don’t receive funding but asked for it this year or those that do receive funding but asked for an increase will not have those requests granted.

The council discussed the fact Blue Cross Blue Shield is increasing insurance 4.9% and the city is not currently complying with the personnel handbook on how employees and the city split insurance.

The council said this is something that has not been followed for years — long before its tenure. The handbook states employees and the city split insurance 50/50 but instead they’re splitting it 58/42% with the city paying the heftier end. 

Councilmembers are in agreement it’s important to follow the rules but also don’t feel it’s fair to throw city employees an 8% increase all at once. 

After much discussion, the council agreed to start enforcing the 50/50 rule beginning Jan. 1. But councilmembers believe current employees should be grandfathered in, meaning they would continue to split the insurance costs 58/42 but Blue Cross Blue Shield’s increase will be split 50/50. 

The council will discuss amending the personnel handbook to make changes to the insurance agreement at its Oct. 21 meeting.

Spraggins was not at the work session due to the death of his father. 

The city council vote on the 2020 fiscal year proposed budget and hold a public hearing at its meeting 5 p.m. Monday. 

Santana Wood is the managing editor of The Outlook.