Fairhope approves $130-million budget with 37 new jobs

By Guy Busby
Government Editor
Posted 10/5/22

FAIRHOPE — Fairhope's 2023 budget includes 37 new employees and $43 million in utilities improvements, city officials said.The Fairhope City Council voted Monday, Sept. 26, to approve a budget …

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Fairhope approves $130-million budget with 37 new jobs


FAIRHOPE — Fairhope's 2023 budget includes 37 new employees and $43 million in utilities improvements, city officials said.

The Fairhope City Council voted Monday, Sept. 26, to approve a budget totaling almost $130 million. Mayor Sherry Sullivan said infrastructure and growth will continue to be a priority.

"That includes $43 million in utility investments, $1 million in resurfacing and drainage, $1 million in traffic improvement projects. For public safety, there are of course new police officers and new police vehicles," Sullivan said. "Public works includes new trash trucks, new street crew, right of way inspector and sanitation employees."

City Council President Jimmy Conyers said much of the cost of the utility improvements will be paid with grants from the federal Resources and Ecosystem Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast Act, known as RESTORE, or other sources.

"We did mention in this budget highlights, we've got $43 million just in utility investments and right now, per the budget, between cash reserves and grants and RESTORE Act money, looks like we're going to be able to fund that $43 million in improvements and investments just with a $15-million line of credit is the initial game plan," Conyers said. "We are in a pretty good position at the moment from a cash flow perspective."

Councilman Jack Burrell said the city can change the budget, dropping or reducing programs if the economy changes.

"The budget is a fluid document," Burrell said. "It's a snapshot in time. If revenues don't meet projections, we can change, although you have some very major expenditures that probably cannot be put off when you come to utilities."

The new jobs added under the budget include seven new positions in the police department. The department will add three positions in patrol, a beach patrol officer, communications and some promotions. The department will also receive some new vehicles in the 2023 budget, Sullivan said.

The city will also add nine new public works positions, including a street crew, a right of way inspector and workers to mow grass. Also in the budget are two new sanitation positions and 10 additional jobs in water or wastewater.

Sullivan said personnel costs have been going up in recent years, but the increase will be more in the upcoming budget.

"The personnel costs continue to increase, pretty much trending," Sullivan told council members. "You can see that our personnel costs increase about $2 million a year. This past year, it was a little over $3 million and that includes the 5% pay increase that was done June, July of this year, July I believe, so it's a little over $3 million this year that you'll see personnel costs increase."

The overall budget increased 12.3% from $115.76 million in 2022.

"We have almost a $130 million budget and that includes $37 million in the general fund and then $28 million in the electric fund, $37 million in the water and sewer fund, $10 million in the gas Fund and $8 million in capital projects," Sullivan said.

In the general fund, revenue from property taxes is projected to increase 22%. Local taxes were up 39% and license and permit fees were projected to increase 13%, according to the budget.

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