Parkersburg Finance Committee to consider $2M fund balance

Proposals include stormwater issues, paving, pensions

PARKERSBURG — City Council’s Finance Committee will meet today to discuss how to allocate more than $2 million in unexpended funds from the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Among the revisions are $534,041 for rehabilitation of stormwater drainage systems and construction of new ones, $454,470 for next year’s paving project, $200,000 in additional funding for police and fire pensions and $59,000 to build out the city’s information technology network to extend services to City and Southwood parks.

“Roughly 62 percent of the total carryover and revision is for infrastructure and pensions,” Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce said. “It stays in line with what we’ve been talking about these last two years.”

An additional $260,337 is intended to fund the recently approved $2.53-an-hour raise and degree-incentive pay adjustments for police officers.

Another $70,000 is being requested to purchase and demolish the former Speedway at Emerson and West Virginia avenues as a site for the replacement of the adjacent fire station 4.

Finance Director Eric Jiles said the $2,044,175 carryover is the result of business and occupation tax revenue, particularly for contracting, and sales tax revenue coming in over budget. That’s not entirely unexpected, he said, as those figures are estimated conservatively in the budget to guard against overspending.

“Whenever you create a budget, you always want to leave yourself a cushion on the revenue side,” Jiles said.

B&O revenue was budgeted at $8,094,000, with the actual receipts totaling $8,401,345, an increase of 3.8 percent, he said. Sales tax was projected at $5,698,050 and came in at $6,075,523, a jump of 6.6 percent.

Additional carryover funds were the result of vacant positions not being filled. Some of the remaining funds represent money obligated in the previous budget year but unspent, including $59,925 to purchase a sign truck currently being built.

Joyce said he considers the IT improvements part of the infrastructure, as they would link city systems in the major parks with the network utilized at the Municipal Building.

The additional pension payments will help amortize the liabilities that prompted council to follow the administration’s recommendation to close the existing systems to new hires. This allowed the city to change its payment plan and begin amortizing the liability with increased annual payments that are expected to eventually decrease, rather than increasing by 7 percent each year no matter how much is paid.

While the police raises will impact the pensions, Jiles said the full effect will not be known for more than a year. The additional $200,000 was proposed on the basis of “the more we put toward the pensions, the better,” Jiles said, “but it does help.”

The former Speedway has been eyed for the replacement of the Depression-era station 4 since before Joyce took office in 2017. Located a little more than half a mile from a larger Speedway at 4408 Emerson Ave., the store closed at the end of September.

Joyce said the city has reached a tentative agreement to purchase the property. The current owner will not tear down the building, but “they will get the site a clean bill of health as far as from a tank removal standpoint,” he said.

The city would purchase the property and transfer it to the Municipal Building Commission, which could issue bonds to fund construction of the new station, Joyce said. It’s one of three the city is looking to replace. The first, at 16th and Covert streets, is under construction now, financed with a loan through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Finance Committee will meet at 5 p.m. today in the Meeks Conference Room adjacent to council chambers on the second floor of the Municipal Building.