The Auburn City Council unanimously approved the biennial budget for fiscal years 2021-22 at its virtual meeting on Tuesday night, charting the financial path forward for the city as it deals with the economic effects and uncertainty created by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The budget forecasts total available resources of about $93.4 million in FY21 and $96.2 million in FY22, with expenditures pegged at roughly $112.1 million and $99.7 million, respectively, for the two fiscal years.

The city's projected net ending fund balance for the current fiscal year, FY20, is about $45.2 million. That is projected to decrease to roughly $29 million in FY21 and to $26.2 million in FY22, both of which are still above the city's goal of the ending fund balance remaining above 25 percent of the expenditures and other financing uses in a given fiscal year.

The budget includes a number of projects as part of the Capital Improvement Plan. 

In FY21, projects include converting Toomer and Thomas streets from one-way to two-way roads; making streetscape and intersection improvements at Samford Avenue and along South College and South Gay streets; installing a median and making sidewalk and streetscape improvements along Opelika Road from Gentry to Saugahatchee as part of Renew Opelika Road Phase 4, with a construction start date this month; intersection improvements at Donahue Drive and Shug Jordan Parkway; the addition of a new Fire Station No.6 at the intersection of Farmville and Miracle roads, construction for which is expected to begin in November; construction of an inclusive playground at Town Creek Park; the completion of a greenway from Sam Harris Park to the Shug Jordan Soccer Fields; renovations and improvements to Pine Hill Cemetery, including a new cremation garden; the construction of a roundabout at Cox and Wire roads; and the construction of the new passive Dinius Park; among other planned projects.

The council also approved a contract worth roughly $873,000 with Adams Construction & Associates for the construction of Dinius Park, which will be located at 1435 East Glenn Avenue. The 13 acres for the park were donated to the City by the Dinius Estate, as were most of the funds allocated to complete the project.

"Just to remind the public how the Dinius family was very philanthropic — not only did they donate the land, but they donated most of the money that we're using for this project," said Auburn Mayor Ron Anders. 

The City is allocating roughly $100,000 for the project, said City Manager Jim Buston. 

Construction is expected to begin in October and be completed at some point next spring. Some aspects of the project had to be scaled back, including rock walls and mulch, to reduce cost. Many of those improvements will be handled in-house in the coming years and will not come before the Council for approval, said Engineering Services Director Alison Frazier. 

The Capital Improvement Plan also includes a number of potential projects slated for FY22, including the widening of the sidewalk on the north side of Magnolia Avenue between Wright Street and Donahue Drive; making sweeping improvements to the Boykin Community Center campus that include a museum highlighting the history of the African-American community in Auburn, a branch library, and indoor and outdoor pools, among other features; the installation of a traffic signal at the intersection of North Donahue Drive and Farmville Road; sidewalk construction along Richland Road; and the addition of a large multi-purpose building, three new soccer fields and a new parking lot at the Soccer Complex, which has a projected budget of about $8.65 million. 

At its meeting Tuesday, the Council also approved a resolution adopting the provisions in the Local Government Retirement Fairness Act that will allow the City to provide Tier I retirement benefits to its Tier II employees who take part in the state's retirement system. The move will help the city recruit stronger candidates and provide city employees with more benefits. 

"Not adopting the act would be detrimental to our future recruitment efforts especially for those jobs that require physicality, such as heavy equipment operators, maintenance workers, police, and fire," according to a memo included in meeting materials. 

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