Taken together, those measures cost approximately $200,000, but because the council also agreed not to take any money from the city’s reserve fund, officials will have to trim from other parts of the budget to allow for that expense, according to finance director and interim city manager Danny McCullars.
The council also agreed to a 1 percent cost of living adjustment for city employees, which will be a permanent increase in salary that carries over to future budgets rather than a one-time bonus. The measure will cost the city approximately $196,000, which has already been budgeted.
"Figuring out where to spend the dollars we have is the toughest job we do," Councilman Jay Jenkins told his colleagues, noting the various demands of residents. He said the city has continued to reduce staff without reducing services and has asked the workers to do more without compensation.
Councilman Seyram Selase was the lone council member opposed to keeping The Hill open, saying the city could use the funds to invest in the Cane Creek course. Selase said he worries that the city provides many services to people who don’t live in the city and should be focusing efforts on those who they know live here, such as public school students.
“I want to be sure we’re not allowing other areas to get fat off our backs,” he said.
Selase, along with Councilman David Reddick and Mayor Vaughn Stewart, supported increasing the $400,000 in education funding proposed in the budget to $500,000. Jenkins and Councilwoman Millie Harris said they wanted to make sure the money they provide is actually going to the students, not school overhead. They preferred to keep the education funding as proposed and then amend the budget later if necessary.
Stewart said the city only needed to decide an amount for what he called the education innovation fund because the council will have opportunities later to fund specific initiatives in the city’s schools.
In other business, the council:
— Approved an application to the Appalachian Regional Commission Program for a $200,000 grant for renovations to the Victoria Inn. If awarded, the city’s match would be an additional $200,000.
— Removed $12,000 for Health Services Center, Inc. from the city’s Emergency Solutions Grant because its shelter does not qualify as an emergency shelter under the 2012 Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations. The award amount decreases from $127,000 to $115,000.
— Adopted the Anniston Bicycle and Pedestrian Concept Plan.
— Authorized issuance of $7.5 million worth of bonds by the McClellan Development Authority to pay for renovations to a five-story building on Polkville Drive as an assisted living facility.
— Authorized the donation of the Truman Gymnasium at McClellan to the Center for Domestic Preparedness. The facility includes a swimming pool and space for workout equipment.
— Authorized an agreement with KPS Group to develop a plan for the revitalization of west Anniston.
— Authorized a $41.68 reimbursement to Councilman David Reddick for expenses while attending the National League of Cities NBC-LEO conference.
— Approved downtown street closures for the Neewollah on Noble event on Oct. 26.
— Approved a retail beer license application for the Pizza Hut on Blue Mountain Road.
— Approved a retail beer license application for Charlies Spirits on McClellan Boulevard.
— Awarded a $99,396 bid to Eugene Turner, general contractor, to modify fire sprinklers at Longleaf Botanical Gardens.
Staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.