No finalized budget, no COLA for Florala

Published 12:46 am Tuesday, November 25, 2008

On Monday, the Florala City Council met in a second workshop to hammer out the more than $1.14 million budget; however, the task difficult proved difficult as lagging revenue showed a shortfall of more than $43,000.

It is two months into the fiscal year and Florala still has not adopted its budget. Nearly a week ago, the council met for nearly three hours in budget discussions.

“This has been a work in progress,” Mayor Robert Williamson said. “There are some cuts, even some drastic ones, that have to made.”

Cuts included no cost of living adjustment (COLA) for city employees, reducing the police force by one officer and one administrative person in city hall until sometime in March, as well as cutting overall revenue by 5 percent.

As for the COLA, Williamson and the other council members agreed that each city employee worked hard and deserved a raise, “but the money is just not there.”

When taking into consideration the reduction in the number of employees, ceasing to cover half of the cost of a lobbyist and using money from two specialized gas tax funds to offset costs incurred by the street department, it nearly eliminated the $43,000 shortfall.

However, the council did not adopt the budget and it is unknown when they will. Additionally, council members agreed that each of the cuts should be re-evaluated in four months, which would be six months into the current fiscal year, in the hopes the city is in better financial shape.