Helena approves their general fund budget for FY 2024

Published 1:15 pm Tuesday, September 12, 2023

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

HELENA – The Helena City Council approved and passed their general fund budget for the 2024 fiscal year during a regularly scheduled Council session on Monday, Sept. 11.

The passage of the budget comes after a great deal of work from all council members and city officials that worked to ensure the city’s funds were appropriated in the most efficient and cost-effective ways possible.

“We’ve worked hard on this, I feel very good about it,” said Alice Lobell, council president.

The Council session began in a solemn mood as Mayor Brian Puckett led those in attendance with a moment of silence in recognition of the lives lost during the attacks on 9/11 that occurred 22 years ago. Following the moment of silence, Puckett also took a moment to officially thank all first responders, both locally and nationally, for all that they do in service of the public.

In his update on municipal operations, Puckett also gave thanks to the Helena Farmers’ Market for their completion of another season.

“It was a phenomenal season again,” Puckett said. “There is new leadership that is taking over the farmer’s market, I’m excited to see where it goes and making sure that it expands.”

Prior to the budget’s approval, the Council also received a quick address from guest speaker, Betsy Fetner, of the Laura Crandall Brown Foundation. Fetner, who serves as program director for the foundation, spoke for several minutes on the topic of gynecologic cancers.

“33,000 women are going to die this year from gynecologic cancers,” Fetner said. “Unfortunately, the state of Alabama ranks number one in cervical cancer deaths and number six in ovarian cancer deaths. These are not stats that we should be proud of.”

The Laura Crandall Brown Foundation seeks to raise awareness of these cancers and provides grants to those researching their treatment. To date, they have funded more than $500,000 in research grants in the fight against ovarian cancer and is the only nonprofit organization in Alabama who is solely dedicated to funding the early detection of ovarian cancer.

Fetner was also adamant that their support does not end in the lab either, and that the foundation takes many steps in helping those struggling with these cancers. Last year, the foundation helped 2,881 patients with more than $118,000 in financial support.

“We provide emotional support for woman who are going through this horrible time, we have support groups that we do that through and we also have a mentoring program that pairs survivors with newly diagnosed ladies, it’s a really special thing,” She said. “We are only one of 44 places in the country that are licensed to run that mentoring program. A large part of our budget every year also goes to (the) financial assistance of these women. Not only can cancer be devastating it can be very expensive.”

In relation to the topic of Fetner’s work, and in recognition of September as Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month, Puckett issued a proclamation declaring the month as such in the city of Helena.

In relation to the city’s upcoming fiscal year, the city of Helena passed their drafted budget for the 2024 fiscal year with a unanimous vote of approval following several final adjustments made at the preceding Council work session. The budget, which totals just over $12.4 million, is currently being prepared for public release and will be made available in the next few days according to Councilmember, and Council President Pro Tempore, Chris VanCleave.

In other news, the Helena City Council unanimously approved the following:

  • A revenue report and payment of the city’s bills.
  • A resolution ordaining the appointment of the personnel board, in accordance with the Civil Service Act.