The Anniston City Council approved a budget amendment that will have the city giving $10,000 to a local business incubator as well as an extra $15,000 to a local drug task force.
Mayor Jack Draper presented the amendments during a called budget meeting of the council Tuesday evening. The city will get the money for the amendments by transferring funds initially budgeted for professional services and engineering, according to Draper.
The $10,000 will go to the Northeast Alabama Entrepreneurial Center in Anniston. The center is a nonprofit that for 20 years has provided office and light manufacturing space to startup businesses in the community.
The mayor said Anniston is one of the only local entities that doesn’t contribute to the center and that entrepreneurship is something “we really need to foster, quite frankly.”
The $15,000 amendment will bring the city’s contribution to the Calhoun County Drug Task Force up to $90,000, according to finance director Cory Salley. Councilwoman Millie Harris said she supported the amendment because the city has given the task force well over $100,000 in previous years.
A final vote on the entire municipal budget has yet to be taken.
In other business, the council:
— Voted to repay the Anniston City Schools $170,000 spent toward the purchase of laptop computers for Anniston High School students.
— Voted to create a single supervisor position for both municipal court and probation rather than having one supervisor for each department. City finance director Cory Salley said the consolidation would save the city approximately $50,000.
— Discussed the city’s contribution to Anniston City Schools in a work session prior to the meeting. City Manager Jay Johnson said school leaders requested that city’s upcoming $100,000 allocation to the district be used for transportation costs and put toward a state-mandated one-month reserve. The school board’s fund balance is projected to be more than $1 million in the red at the end of the upcoming fiscal year, and the board must have $1.5 million in reserve to meet state requirements. Council members said their constituents want to see the money go directly to benefit the students.
Superintendent Darren Douthitt attended the work session, at which city leaders asked about the school district’s audit they’ve been waiting on for five months. Mayor Jack Draper asked if the audit still required field work and Douthitt said he was under the impression that that portion of the audit is complete.
“We’re not getting a true story there,” Councilman Jay Jenkins said, later adding, “We just need it.”
City officials have said they need the school system’s audit to complete their accounting requirements. Not having one could affect both the city and the school district’s bond rating, Johnson said.