Berlin council plans for big year ahead

Berlin Town Council members brainstorm ideas for their upcoming FY 2020 budget Monday evening. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

BERLIN, Ala. – The Berlin Town Council on Monday evening had an agenda packed with the future of the state’s newest incorporated municipality. During both the work session and meeting, Mayor Patrick Bates and councilmen brainstormed about ideas for the near and long-term future of the town, including:

  • Freestanding town hall – The town government plans to move out of the Berlin Community Center into a temporary portable structure by next March- according to Bates, hopefully well before then- while working on a permanent building.
  • Storm shelter – The Berlin community currently has no storm shelter, and based on the discussion, this could be the first long-term project for which the Town seeks grant money.
  • Recreational areas and items, including a playground, basketball court and pavilion with picnic tables
  • Senior center
  • Farmers’ market

The big item for the meeting was the proposed fiscal year 2020 budget, which will have to be approved in September. Bates told the council that 2019 revenues were at or above original estimates in almost all categories, and that expenditures were at or below estimates in all categories.

Said Bates, “Everything’s looking pretty good here.”

For the 2020 budget, the mayor proposed reducing all revenue estimates by 10% “just to be safe.” He then noted some new expenses that will come up in 2020, Berlin’s second full fiscal year. He proposed adding $10,000 for possible election expenses, while saying that he did not expect the election to cost the Town nearly that much. He also proposed:

  • $4,000 to promote the 2020 Census, noting that most of the Town’s income is based on its population
  • $30,000 for the purchase and installation of Berlin’s temporary town hall
  • $5,000 for mowing
  • $10,000 for road patching

The biggest proposed expense item in the new budget was $60,000 for road resurfacing. The council discussed the possibility of stabilizing road bases and chip sealing the surfaces, cheaper than asphalt paving but not as durable, to improve as many roads as possible in a short amount of time while planning for a future second phase of complete asphalt paving.

The council did not take action on the budget, and will resume discussion at its September meeting. It did approve $1,200 for the town clerk to attend required training in December ahead of next year’s election.

The Berlin Town Council meets on the third Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Berlin Community Center. The public is invited to attend.

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W.C. Mann