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Huntsville City Manager Aron Kulhavy recently released the proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget to the Huntsville City Council.

According to Kulhavy, the proposed budget is $75,478,483, which includes all 10 operating funds of the city, and includes a property tax rate decrease.

If the proposed budget is approved, the current tax rate will drop to 30.62 cents per $100 valuation. For example, a home valued at $150,000 will pay $459 annually in property taxes for all city services.

However, the rate could fluctuate as city counselors finalize the spending plan.

“This proposed budget considers the current pandemic related to COVID-19,” Kulhavy said in a letter to council members. “Although the city was not significantly impacted by a decline in sales tax revenue as anticipated in the current fiscal year, other sources of revenue including court fines and hotel/motel taxes had a significant decline. The concerns about the future impact of the pandemic resulted in conservative revenue projections.”

Mixed beverage tax, municipal court fines and hotel/motel tax revenues are all projected lower in the proposed budget. Kulhavy also noted that sales tax budgeted for the fiscal year 20-21 is less than what the city will actually receive in the current year.

Officials anticipate the population in Huntsville to be 50,000 within the next few years, which is a 22 percent increase since 2010. The population growth, mostly because of the result of new residential development equates to an increase of 3.8 percent ($254,704) in new property tax revenues. Property tax revenues are projected to increase by 4.1 percent ($290,583) in the fiscal year.

“There are a few underlying themes which helped guide the staff in preparation of this year's budget,” Kulhavy added. “The first is to continue to fund and address the objectives outlined in the council's adopted strategic plan. The second is to continue to provide the best level of service to Huntsville's citizens and guests in a fiscally sound manner.”

One of the cuts from this year’s proposed budget is the exclusion of a health clinic that was accessible to all city employees three days a week at the city service center. Kulhavy noted that the city has not seen the direct cost savings they anticipated, with annual costs of $75,000.

Before the budget is finalized though, the Huntsville City Council will vote on six decision packets, which will be presented on Sept. 1. Budget decision packets include:

• funding for an employee vacation buy-back program and merit/ step plan increases, totaling $333,333.

• $860,000 of funding for three capital improvement projects, which include a new taxiway at the airport, a new skate park and lighting along the walking trail at Eastham Thomason Park.

• $4.7 million of funding for waterline and wastewater line replacements.

• $199,666 of funding for two new full-time employees.

• $2.12 million of one-time expenditures from unallocated reserves.

• $351,416 in funding for employee pay raises based on the results from a compensation/ pay study.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Sept. 1 at Huntsville City Hall with adoption scheduled for Sept. 15.

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