FOLEY – The new Foley budget reflects continued growth in revenue that city officials plan to use for more capital projects.

The Foley City Council voted to approve the new budget, which goes into effect Oct. 1, at the start of the 2024 fiscal year.

The budget shows an increase in revenue over the last year. At the start of the 2023 budget, revenue for the next 12 months was estimated to be $56.58 million. The final total a year later was $64.83 million.

City Administrator Mike Thompson said that while city income grew more than expected, expenses stayed close to budgeted projections. The original 2023 budget estimate of expenses was $43.16 million. That total was adjusted to $45.34 million in the final 2023 budget. 

City expenses are estimated to be $43.56 million when the fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

“We outperformed our revenue budgets pretty substantially,” Thompson said. “We had more money come in during this current fiscal year than we were anticipating. Also, from an operational expense perspective, our directorial team was able to manage our operational expenses very well. So, we’re actually coming in under budget on our operational expenses.”

Mayor Ralph Hellmich said the revenue will allow the city to continue to work to accommodate Foley’s growth.

“The council and I have worked very diligently in the past two years to address growth,” Hellmich said. “One way of doing that is to reinvest the excess monies that are coming in from a really great economy back into the infrastructure, the amenities and all of the things that we have to do to make Foley be successful.”

The mayor said current indications are that growth should continue. 

“Looking at this year. I don’t think anybody foresaw that,” Hellmich said. “Next year, we could have a similar year. From what I understand, in tourism, they broke the record this year again. The final numbers aren’t in, but it appears that the people that did come spent more money.”

The budget includes plans to start capital improvement projects with an estimated cost of about $72 million. Thompson said some of those projects were postponed in 2023.

The city also plans to increase staffing, Thompson said.

“We’re adding to our headcount,” Thompson said. “We’re a growing city so we have to keep up with our demand. We’re going from about 376 employees to 405.”

Thompson said that total could increase to 414 if the city’s request for a grant to allow nine additional firefighters is approved.