Parkersburg City Council passes budget

PARKERSBURG – Parkersburg City Council Tuesday night approved the 2013-2014 municipal budget.

Council approved the budget in a 5-3 vote with Councilmen John Kelly, Roger Brown and J.R. Carpenter voting against. Councilman Mike Reynolds was absent Tuesday night.

Council, which met as the budget committee of the whole, completed talks on the $26.33 million spending plan last week with the council vote scheduled for Tuesday.

Councilmen still took issue with pay raises slated for some people, including police officers, and raises not available for other city employees.

Mayor Bob Newell spoke about the budget process and what has to be done to put a budget together.

”There is always something in there that you are not going to like,” he said. ”There are things in there that I don’t like.

”At the end of the day we do have to pass the budget and live with that. I would hate to think that you would vote against the budget because there was one thing in there you did not like.”

Brown said he did not want the raise to put officers in a different tax bracket where they would end up paying more in taxes in the long run.

Carpenter said he wanted to explain why he has voted no for the proposed budget and why he would again Tuesday night. He commended the mayor for his efforts in streamlining management in departments and saving the city money.

”I think we are missing an excellent opportunity to return some of this back to the citizens by lowering our cost of operations, especially given the economic times we are facing as a country,” Carpenter said. ”That is why I am voting no and why I will continue to vote no.”

Councilwoman Sharon Lynch, who voted for the budget, said a proposed $2 an hour raise for police officers does not bring them up to base rates of pay for cities in the state with a comparable size police force.

”We are short police officers,” she said. ”We are losing them at a rate that is not good for the citizens of Parkersburg.

”We have drugs in the city, more robberies and we have a reduced police force. I think the safety of our citizens is worth paying more to keep the seasoned police officers we have and be able to hire others.”

Newell said the police department is down six positions with people in two more positions on leave. Some officers will be retiring this spring.

”It is going to take us at least two years to get back up to full strength,” the mayor said.

Newell is hopeful this new pay scale will attract qualified people.

Other council members who voted for the budget were Kim Coram, John Rockhold and James Reed.

No one from the public spoke during the public hearing portion to address the budget.

Councilwoman Nancy Wilcox, who voted for the budget, commended the city’s staff for cutting expenses and being able to give that money back to the employees of the city.

”I think it is a really good budget,” she said.

In other business:

* Council approved a resolution naming 50 acres in the Johnson T. Janes Park as the Herman and Margy Marshall Nature and Wildlife Preserve.

* Council approved a resolution that will rename the horseshoe pits at City Park as the Loman Tumlin Memorial Horseshoe Center.

* Council approved an ordinance on first reading to create the position of assistant public works director, a full-time position approved through the personnel committee.

* Council on final reading approved an ordinance to create the part-time position of police clerk in the police department.

* Council approved a resolution for an agreement with Professional Pool Management LLC to manage the pools and waterslide for 2013. Lynch wanted assurances city officials would have the opportunity to talk with the company to address problems brought to her attention from the public regarding rules implemented at the pools last summer and other concerns.