FLORENCE — Christmas wish lists are common sights this time of year, and the City Council is not immune to the spirit of the giving season.
The council and Mayor Mickey Haddock met for two hours Tuesday morning to begin compiling a capital projects list for the coming year. There were plenty of common wishes, such as building a bridge linking west Florence with Alabama 20, expanding the sports complex, and starting a new round of streetscaping. Drainage issues also emerged as a common theme.
Council President Dick Jordan said the projects will be weighed against financial realities. The council’s options for financing the projects could include borrowing money in the bond market, paying for work from cash reserves, or doing nothing at all. The latter option would seem to be the least likely of the three.
“The 1-cent sales tax adopted by the council in 1995 is what funds capital projects,” Jordan said. The tax generates approximately $8 million annually, he said, and 37 percent of that amount is earmarked for the city school system. Other portions of the tax collection are dedicated to repaying capital debt, and a significant part of that will be repaid this spring, he said.
For the past four years, the mayor and council did not have a capital projects budget because of the national recession. Florence weathered the economic downturn better than most cities, which was accomplished in part by curtailing spending.