City, council prepare for budget process

PARKERSBURG – City officials and Parkersburg City Council are preparing for this year’s budget process set to begin this month.

Mayor Bob Newell will present the budget to council on Tuesday. Three budget hearings will be announced afterward.

“The state requires it to be presented by Feb. 15,” Newell said. “Once it is presented, the council adjourns and reconvenes as the Committee of the Whole” to hold the hearings.

This year three budget hearings are planned, in part because the council has several new members who have not gone through the budget process.

“We will do it a little less quickly than we have in the past,” Newell said. “Something different this year, I am going to be giving a Power Point presentation that gives them an idea of how the money is spent in each department.”

Individual department heads will attend and be available for questions from council, he said.

Councilman John Rockhold as vice president chairs the budget hearings. He also is chairman of the finance committee.

“Once we have a solid, certified financial picture of Parkersburg, we can start to scrutinize some of the expenditures and look at ways to cut some costs,” he said.

That budget presentation will set the tone for future finance committee meetings and determine the focus of city council.

“That will be the starting point,” Rockhold said. “Throughout there year there will be the need to make adjustments. We (the finance committee) may need to see where the money is and move the money accordingly.”

For example, officials already are moving toward giving employees pay raises, but at the same time are looking at various positions to eliminate overlap and increase efficiency, Rockhold said. Money approved during the budgeting process may not cover a new position or may be diverted if positions are eliminated or combined throughout the year.

“There are a lot of options and possibilities,” he said.

After the budget is reported to city council, it will go through two readings before approval. After it is approved, the budget is sent to the state for its review.