Little change in M’hall’s 2020 budget

By MARLAN JONES,

The Mendenhall Mayor and Board of Aldermen approved the fiscal year 2019-2020 budget during the September 3 regularly scheduled meeting.

They also adopted the 2019-2020 tax levy resolution, and the millage rate remained the same. According to the proposed budget totals, the city will operate with $1,539,325 in the general fund this upcoming year. Solid waste will be operating with a budget of $237,350, and municipal fire with a budget of $45,840. The water and sewer fund is slated to get $592,465. Combined, the proposed budget comes to a total of $2,414,980.

Specific department totals from the general fund detailing the operating budget of the street, police, parks and elections departments were also released by the city. The city budgeted more money for the street department after spending approximately $90,000 on asphalt in August. Mayor Todd Booth has expressed in the past a desire to dedicate over $100,000 a year towards asphalt and repairing the roads. The city fell slightly short of the $100,000 mark during this summer’s paving project, but was still able to accomplish a substantial amount of repairs throughout the wards.

Booth says he believes the city will be able to do more during the next fiscal year considering the funds that will be received from the use tax. He hopes that the city will be able to reach the $200,000 mark for asphalt and street repairs. According to the new budget $274,410 has been budgeted towards the Street Department.

The Mendenhall Police Department will have an operating budget of $511,139. Police Chief Candy McCullum has been active in seeking grants and other programs to effectively assist the department.

The Sportsplex has received several upgrades over the past few years that include a gazebo and new playground equipment, most of which was paid for using grant money and other special programs.  Small upgrades have been made to the facilities’ equipment and amenities in the previous year.

The City Park Department has an operating budget of $92,935 for the upcoming fiscal year. The Mendenhall Armory, Civic Center, and Teen Center will be maintained with a combined budget of $10,100.

The Mendenhall Library commanded $18,325 of the general fund, and the Fire Department will operate with $70,329.

The Mendenhall Fire Department has grown by leaps and bounds due to the hard work of several individuals. The department continues to maintain an improved fire rating at a 6. Improving the fire rating has been a long term goal of the city, and leadership is constantly looking for ways to make it even better. During the last fiscal year the department commissioned a new fire truck that should be added to the fleet in October. The new fire truck, a Rosenbauer custom truck, will be unlike any truck the department has seen before, and has taken 11 months to build. It comes equipped with a foam system and a 1500gpm pump.

The city committed $9,400 towards economic development. Other departments’ operating budgets in the general fund include the Legislative Department ($150,823), Judicial Department ($97,877), and Executive Department ($45,502). 

Booth said that he and others are excited about the direction the city is headed in. “People are starting to look at Mendenhall a little more.” He said there has been interest in several vacant lots around town from potential businesses and home owners.

He credited the success of the city to the citizens, saying he believes the success also ties in to the appearance of the city and projects such as Friday Nights on Main and the Farmer’s Market. These events and more have helped to generate a positive buzz around Mendenhall, he said.

Booth explained that one of the main goals for the upcoming fiscal year is getting the water tank that the city recently acquired operational. He said, “We’re really hoping to get the new tank up and functioning this year to tie it into the system the following year. It will help a lot of people.”

There are also plans to rework the lift station located next to Mendenhall Jr. High. The city received a $450,000 grant to assist with the project. Booth said that another long term goal was to get a water line connected from East Street to Highway 13, which would improve the water pressure for citizens and businesses located in that area. Also there are still plans to install LED lights along Highway 49 and East Street. Booth said the plans are to install 12 lights and brighten the area, similar to the Highway 49 and Highway 13 intersection.

Overall there was very little change to the budget compared to last year, and this was by design. Booth said the main focus was trying to allocate more money towards asphalt, and budgeting for the upcoming water tank project.

Also during the meeting the Board of Aldermen approved amended salary and hourly rates for the fiscal year. The meeting was recessed until Thursday, Sept. 26.