Helena starts traffic safety program, passes $4 million budget

The Helena City Council voted Monday night to establish its own traffic safety program for the municipal court system and set the cost at $150 to enroll.

The council passed the ordinance at the request of Helena Police Chief Mark Hall.

Hall said the city’s current traffic safety program, offered in conjunction with the state, was not paying for itself and recommended the changes.

The city currently charges $25 for the program, also known as defensive driving school. The class is usually taught by a Helena police officer who, Hall said, has lately had to be paid overtime because of a lack of time.

First time traffic offenders, he said, can only enroll in the class at the discretion of Helena’s municpal judge, E.C. Herron.

Half of the $25 fee goes to the state, Hall said. He recommended the city set the rate for the school at $150, which is similar to Hoover’s rate.

&uot;We were the bargain on the block,&uot; he told the council. &uot;This will keep our court system solvent and keep the money in-house.&uot;

The council also passed a $4 million 2003 fiscal year budget for the city. The budget, prepared by Jerry Owensby, special assistant to the mayor, included $4,042,232 in total expenses.

The largest expense was payroll at $1.8 million, followed by employee insurance at $145,000 and payroll taxes at $144,000.

The city projected total revenue at $4.2 million. The largest sources of revenue were sales taxes at $1.6 million, garbage fees at 471,000 and franchise fees at $460,000.

The budget also included a $29,500 donation to Helena schools as well as $70,000 to match a state grant for bike and walking trails through the city and sidewalks for Old Town Helena.

The budget had a reserve of $180,519, or roughly 4 percent of total revenue.

Owensby said the budget was about a 10 percent increase over last year’s. He said the largest increase in spending was for payroll. He described the budget as &uot;static&uot; as compared to previous years.

In other action, the Helena City Council:

n granted a Home Occupation License to Scot G. Webb for his business, Black Tie Painting.

n granted a Home Occupation License to Jennifer Caton, for her business Sharing Precious Times.

n granted a Home Occupation License to John Toole, for his business Toole, LLC.

n passed an ordinance allowing the annexation of several more acres of Riverwoods Properties. The annexation is a land swap with the city of Hoover under Alabama’s 1/2 way rule.

n Approved Sector 4, Phase 1 of Riverwoods subdivision (31 lots). The new lots received a favorable recommendation from the Helena Planning Commission.

n Approved a Brookforest addition to the Wyndham subdivision, phase two. The addition will include 16 lots