Big Budget: Natural growth a major factor in budget

Published 3:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2016

Troy’s biggest budget in history is a byproduct of natural growth according to City Clerk Alton Starling.

“Each and every year you have some anticipated growth within the municipality,” Starling said. “Naturally you expect next year’s to be the biggest budget in history. Last year’s budget was the biggest in history and the year before that it was the biggest in history. If you’re having normal growth, you’re going to have a budget that exceeds the previous year.”

Starling said that several things contributed to a 9.7 percent increase in governmental expenditures, including the addition of 12 new firefighters, three to four new police officers, Pike County Lake and the Animal Shelter.

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The increase in public safety officers will increase expenditures for the city, but Starling said that the additional officers and fire station will help to lower home insurance costs for residents.

The budget also projects a 5 percent increase in governmental revenue and a 10 percent increase in utility fund revenue.

“Troy University has a huge impact and if each of those kids spend $100 to $200 a month, that’s extra money for the city,” Starling said.

Troy University announced a record enrollment this Fall.

Another factor Starling said plays into the projection is the opening of Publix and other retail stores coming as a result of the Park Place development and Enzor Road Connector Project.

Not only will those businesses bring in extra sales tax revenue from residents around Pike County, Starling said that they will contribute to higher utility revenues.

Major expenses listed in the general fund budget include the Police Department at $6.51 million, the city government at $4.3 million, the Fire Department at $3.64, the environmental fund at $3.53 million, the Recreation Department at $2.09 million and debt service at $1.86 million.

City government includes all government workers and expenses as well as various community organizations receiving money.

A large chunk of the revenue for the utility fund comes from electric tolls, which are projected to bring in $35.7 million. $21.46 million is projected to be spent on electric current.

The Troy City Council will reconvene today at 5 p.m. to consider a finalization of the project agreement between the City of Troy and Harbert Realty Services, LLC on the Park Place development.

The amendment allows for the city to provide $81,000 extra in incentives to Harbert above what was initially approved. It would also allow lighting to be placed there according to Starling. Mayor Jason Reeves said that it would allow the city to recoup all its expenses on the option land.

The council could also pass the budget at the meeting, as they must pass the budget before October 1 according to state law.