Westover budget focuses on fire department

The Westover Town Council is continuing to work under last year’s budget while assessing all the costs that go along with operating an autonomous fire department, said Mayor Mark McLaughlin.

“We didn’t know about all the different expenses at the fire department,” he said. “We said, ‘Instead of guessing, we’ll just adopt the same budget from last year. When we figure out the other stuff, we’ll put it in the budget.'”

The fire department just hired its first chief, Ken Honeycutt, and is only three months removed from a partnership with Cahaba Valley Fire Department.

The budget projects revenues of $440,350 while projecting expenses of $362,200. McLaughlin said he’d like to be even more conservative with those figures during the down economy.

“What we want to do is bring both of those numbers down a little bit,” he said. “Where the economy is as a whole, we want to continue to watch it really close.”

However, the projected revenues show a huge difference in a short time for Westover.

“When I was first mayor four years ago, our revenue was $77,000,” McLaughlin said. “That’s a huge change.”

McLaughlin said the budget’s biggest priority, by far, is to continue the fire department’s growth.

“It’s challenging because we had to start from scratch. We had to start from nothing,” he said. “We still want to grow our fire and rescue service, still want to grow our paramedic service. We want to take that growth and spread it amongst the city, and everybody benefits.”