City of Lanett approves $21.2 million operating budget

Published 7:49 am Wednesday, September 21, 2022

LANETT — The Lanett City Council has approved an operating budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1.

The $21.2 million budget was approved in a unanimous vote in Monday’s council meeting. It is approximately $2 million less than last year’s budget, which included more grant money.

“We had discussions with our department heads to talk about their needs for next year,” Mayor Jamie Heard said. “We tried to approve as many as we could.”

Email newsletter signup

Major purchases include a dump truck and asphalt roller for the Street Department, three pickup trucks for the Cemetery Department, two new patrol cars and equipment for the Lanett Police Department and a derrick truck for the Electrical Department, 

A derrick truck is a vehicle that transports a boom arm with a drilling bit attached to its end. It can drill holes in the ground for a variety of purposes such as putting up new utility poles.

Other purchases include two new mowers and several line string trimmers (weed eaters) for the Street Department, some heart monitors and computers for the Lanett EMS ambulances and new turnout gear and computers for the Lanett Fire Department. The Finance Department will be getting some new computers, and the Recreation Department will be getting some restroom improvements at the James A. Hardy gym.

Grants will help in many of the purchases.

City employees will be getting a pay raise along the lines of a new pay grade scale that was adopted Monday. The new scale weighs such factors as qualifications, experience and skills in such areas as operating equipment.

Heard said the new pay grade scale will bring up compensation levels that had been too low.

“We need to be paying our employees in a manner that will attract good people to come and work in Lanett and to keep the skilled employees we have,” said Council Member Angelia Thomas.

Lanett has approximately 120 employees.

There was considerable discussion over a change order that was approved for Evergreen Erosion Control, a firm that did extensive work for the Lanett airport expansion project.

Some members of the council asked why they were being paid at this relatively late date in the project. Fire/EMS Chief Johnny Allen said the money has been paid over the last several years and covers cost overruns.

“There were lots of changes in the contract,” he said. “I don’t like it, but it’s the course of business for a big project like this.”

Allen said it would have been better for it to have come before the council prior to the payments taking place. 

The change order is basically an after-the-fact way of putting the issue to rest. The costs have already been paid. The change order settles what was done.

“In the best scenario, it should have come before the council,” said City Attorney Stanley Gray.

“It goes back to 2019, but it needs to be taken care of,” Allen said. “We need to have our bases covered.”