Heflin City Council

At the Heflin City Council meeting Tuesday night are shown, left to right, City Clerk Shane Smith, Mayor Rudy Rooks and council members Travis Crowe, Rhonda Lines, Clint "Shag" Austin, Shannon Roberts and Rhonda Green.     

HEFLIN — Discussion of various ways to balance the upcoming fiscal year’s budget filled a work session of the Heflin City Council Tuesday night. The document, which must be finalized by month’s end, currently has a deficit of $21,973.25 and does not include any pay raises for city employees.

Heflin Mayor Rudy Rooks said the budget is not looking good but the city is growing and prospering.

“We’re bleeding out a little more than we’re taking in,” said Rooks.

The increases in city expenses are numerous and include fuel expenses, increase in debt services the city pays, health insurance and payroll taxes.

Councilman Shannon Roberts proposed cutting overtime for the police department and to prohibit officers from driving home in their patrol cars. Heflin Police Chief A.J. Benefield interjected and said that letting officers drive their patrol cars to their residences cuts down on response time and prohibiting that would affect the quality of service the department provides.

Councilman Travis Crowe agreed with Benefield and said the morale at the police department is good and taking away the officers’ drive-home privilege might affect that.

City Clerk Shane Smith said he has cut all he can cut and said it was the council’s turn to study ways to balance the budget.

Parks and Recreation director Tammy Perry said she could lay off one of her employees to help balance the budget but that idea was nixed by the mayor.

“We can figure this out with nobody losing jobs. We’re understaffed in just about every department — they are stretched — everybody is doing their part. I don’t see any wasteful spending,” Rooks said.

“It’s not gloom and doom, guys, it’s growing pains I’m telling you,” Rooks said.

Rooks was optimistic about the budget and was confident that it will be balanced.

“The only thing that really troubles me is that we won’t be able to give raises and we’ve been able to do it ever since we’ve been here,” Rooks said.

The council will have one more work session to discuss the budget on Sept. 25 before it is voted on that night.

Upcoming events:

— Groundbreaking for the new assisted living facility at the old Cleburne County High School, Friday at 11 a.m.

— Pottery show at the Mountain Center, Sept. 22 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

— Highway 46 Yard Sale Sept. 28-30

​Staff writer Bill Wilson: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @bwilson_star.