FLORENCE — The City Council approved a $69 million general fund budget Tuesday that is boosted by the 1 cent sales tax increase passed earlier this year.

Mayor Steve Holt said the city has been able to undertake various projects this year, and the fiscal 2019-20 budget will continue that path.

The budget includes a 3% raise for city employees that starts Jan. 1.

"It's a good budget," Mayor Steve Holt said. "My excitement about it is it's allowing us to get the renovations and projects done that we have desperately needed to get done."

He said the budget would have been $59 million without the increase.

The increase raised sales tax in Florence to 9.5 percent, with 3.5 cents going to the city, officials said.

The new fiscal year started Tuesday.

"In the fiscal year that just ended, we were able to address a lot of things that we needed to address," Holt said. "We covered a lot of territory. We started renovations on all of our museums and most all of our parks."

He said renovations to Veterans Park, repairs at Deibert Park and upgrades to tennis courts at all city parks are among work that has been completed or is being done.

Florence also did some $1.6 million in paving, and officials plan to continue that this year.

"We've got right at $2 million in the budget for paving, and that's a big deal for us," Holt said.

Improvements at fire stations and the Police Department are among projects in the budget. Florence was able to purchase a new pumper truck for the Fire Department in September.

The sales tax hike also improved the pay scales for the two departments.

Additional parks and museum work, downtown streetscaping and overall maintenance in the city also are in the plans, Holt said.

He said he hopes the city can move forward with work at River Heritage Park.

The city and state of Alabama also are working toward enhancements to Rickwood Road, Holt said.

"That's a much-needed project for us," he said. "It's rough."

Big revenue items in the budget include some $45 million in anticipated sales and use taxes, $12.6 million ad valorem taxes, $3.4 million business licenses, and $1.115 in alcoholic beverage taxes and fees.

bernie.delinski@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5739. Twitter @TD_BDelinski


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