Budget revision clears first vote

PARKERSBURG – A 2 percent revision to the city’s budget has passed a committee and a first reading by city council.

The city’s five-member finance committee on Tuesday reviewed and unanimously approved the $666,440 revision concerning cash carryover projections for the 2013-14 fiscal year. All nine of the city council members attended the committee meeting and unanimously approved the changes without discussion during the regular city council meeting.

Mayor Bob Newell and Finance Director Angie Smith said the revision was required due to a requested change by city auditors and Business and Occupation Tax (B&O) collections coming in slower than anticipated.

Newell said the changes would not affect city services but would require departments to put off some equipment purchases.

“As things change we can come back to council and look at what areas they would like to reappropriate,” he said.

Newell said he expects much of the B&O money to still be collected, and said the budget revision does not indicate any issues with cash flow or overspending.

“This has nothing to do with cash. It’s not about money; it is about a paper projection from 18-19 months ago,” he said. “Parkersburg did not and has never overspent its budget. We’re not allowed to. It is against the law.”

Council member Nancy Wilcox said last year’s B&O collections, which were the basis of those projections, had actually come in ahead of schedule, artificially inflating those numbers.

“I think this is closer to how it has actually been in years past,” she said.

As part of the budget revision resolution, council also approved a $165,689 Coal Severance Tax Fund revision and a $59,350 neighborhood sidewalk project budget revision. Those two revisions were unrelated to the carryover revision.

Council unanimously approved a final reading of an ordinance to revise the city’s voting precincts, bringing them in line with changes at the county level, and the first reading of an ordinance to hold a personal property auction for the city Sept. 14. That ordinance will be up for a second reading Sept. 10 and a listing of property will be provided to council and the public at that time.

In other business, the city’s public works committee received an update on a proposed concert park in south Parkersburg Tuesday but declined to take action.

Businessman Norm Payne spoke to the committee, answering questions raised during a previous presentation to the committee Aug. 13.

Payne spoke on the topics of liability insurance, parking, and moving people in and out of the park area, which is near the Fifth Street Bridge, west of the city’s skate park.

Committee members said additional financial information and a traffic study would be needed before the committee would send the proposal on to full council.

Payne said he would bring that information back to the committee at a later date.