Calera passes tight budget

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Calera passed a $13 million budget last month that accounted for lower-than-expected sales tax revenues from the past year.

The new budget includes money for two new police officers and three new firefighters.

Calera’s fire and police departments have experienced an increase in calls as the fastest growing city in Alabama booms with new home construction.

Calera Police Chief Jim Finn requested six new officers, but he must wait until after the first of the year to see if the budget picture improves.

&uot;We’ll get what we need in time,&uot; Finn said.

The Calera Police Department has experienced an almost 20 percent increase in calls since 2003, according to Finn. Currently, officers respond to about 200 calls per month.

The new city budget will allow Calera Fire Chief Tommy Moon to hire three new full-time firefighters, although Moon requested five.

&uot;We asked for five, and they said they’ll look at the revenues a little after the new year,&uot; Moon said.

Calls to the Calera Fire Department have increased also. In 2003, the department responded to just over 1,200, Moon said. This year, the department has already handled 1,463 calls.

Much of that increase is due to the city’s rapid residential growth.

&uot;The number of subdivisions has certainly increased the number of calls,&uot; Moon said.

In July, the Calera City Council adjusted budget figures to accommodate low sales tax revenues. Facing an $894,000 deficit, Mayor George Roy asked department heads to find areas to cut spending.

In 2003, Calera collected $4.14 million in sales tax. Officials projected about $4.5 million for 2004.

The city has a reserve fund that it could lean on, but council members remain optimistic that new businesses and residents will brighten the city’s budget outlook.

Last week, a new Cracker Barrel opened in Calera and new subdivisions are popping up on the city’s expanding north side.

Officials expect property taxes and sales tax to grow next year