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Parkersburg sales tax receipts remain strong

City Council to consider budget revision Tuesday

PARKERSBURG — A proposed budget revision before Parkersburg City Council on Tuesday would boost anticipated revenue from the municipal sales tax to its highest level ever.

Council will meet in regular session at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in its chambers on the second floor of the Municipal Building. That’s a week earlier than the usual fourth Tuesday of the month in order to comply with state code requirements to lay the levy rates for the upcoming fiscal year.

The budget revision for council deals primarily with increasing the estimate for the 1 percent sales tax revenue by $231,974, bringing the projected total for the year to $6,251,971.

The original amount in the budget passed last year was $5,902,845. It was decreased by $250,000 in October as city officials tried to predict the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The number was revised upward by about $67,000 in December after revenue for the first quarter of the fiscal year, which began July 1, set a record at more than $1.6 million in spite of the pandemic.

While other sources of revenue for the city have been down, council in January approved another revision boosting the sales tax projection by $300,000. The latest increase is based on third-quarter receipts, which totaled nearly $1,667,000, Finance Director Eric Jiles said.

“It’s in line with the other two quarters that we’ve received, which is quite frankly the best showing we’ve had on sales tax,” he said.

Jiles has used conservative estimates in budgeting and recommended “worst-case scenario” cuts to the fiscal 2020-21 budget in the early days of the pandemic. But sales tax has come in at or higher than projections and even the new $6.25 million figure is “still conservative,” he said.

If the resolution is approved by council, $120,000 of the increase would be allocated to emergency demolitions, of which the city has had several in recent months, including one on Friday following a structure fire.

Another $40,000 would go to the Fire Department’s overtime line item, with the increase needed because of vacancies in the department, Jiles said.

The revision would also move $65,000 unspent on vacant police patrolman positions to the central garage budget for repairs and maintenance performed by outside entities.

“We’ve been doing a lot of that lately, primarily related to police vehicles,” Jiles said.

Tuesday’s agenda includes a public hearing “to hear and consider any objections to the budget estimate” for fiscal 2021-22, which begins July 1. Council will then vote on the West Virginia Auditor’s Office’s approval of its levy estimate and officially set the levy rates for the upcoming fiscal year.

The approval was marked as conditional after the auditor’s office questioned the budgeted carryover amount of $600,000, compared to the most recent actual carryover amount of more than $3.7 million.

In a response to the office, Jiles said this was due to federal C.A.R.E.S. Act reimbursements being received near the end of the previous fiscal year. All that money has been appropriated, he said.

“That budget was passed literally days before all these shutdowns happened” because of the pandemic, Jiles said.

Also on the agenda is Mayor Tom Joyce’s nomination of Development Projects Administrator Ryan Barber as the new development director, a resolution reappointing Paul Hoblitzell to the Parkersburg Utility Board, the first reading of an ordinance creating a new position of street superintendent to oversee the Streets and Street Cleaning departments and the first reading of an ordinance refinancing Parkersburg Utility Board bonds for a projected savings of more tha $400,000.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

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