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Parkersburg City Council approves budget revisions

Parkersburg City Councilwoman Wendy Tuck, left, expresses appreciation for the Fire Department’s response to recent fires during Tuesday’s council meeting at the Municipal Building. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

PARKERSBURG — Parkersburg City Council on Tuesday approved a series of budget revisions totaling more than $1.5 million.

The budget revisions were broken down for council members during a Finance Committee meeting prior to Tuesday’s regular council session.

Finance Director Eric Jiles said the revisions are meant to sharpen revenue projections based on the first two quarters of the fiscal year, as well as update expenses a little over halfway through the period. He recommended increasing the revenue line items for business and occupation and municipal sales tax by $300,000 each.

“This is based on the results of the first quarter and what it looks like the second quarter is coming in at,” Jiles said in regard to B&O.

The revenue estimate for the user fee was also raised by $200,000 after being decreased by half a million dollars in the fall. Jiles said the city now has a better understanding of “the local employment impact of COVID.”

Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce, right, listens as Finance Director Eric Jiles outlines a series of proposed budget revisions during a Parkersburg City Council Finance Committee meeting Tuesday at the Municipal Building. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

The line item for federal grants was increased by $870,000 to reflect the actual amount received by the city – $6.87 million – in reimbursements for COVID-19 expenses through the federal CARES Act. Jiles noted the money allocated to the state for those reimbursements has been expended.

“It’s done,” he said. “We’re still applying for funds at the state’s recommendation in case something happens with the next stimulus package.”

The reimbursements for coronavirus-related expenses, including police and firefighter salaries, have mostly gone into the city’s contingency fund, which now stands at approximately $8.5 million.

One of the revisions allocates $49,000 to cover the cost of fogging to disinfect the Municipal Building periodically for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends June 30.

“We have been reimbursed for that to date, but going forward, we’re going to continue that,” Jiles said.

Parkersburg City Councilwoman Sharon Kuhl, left, discusses a recent Personnel Committee meeting during which an ordinance creating a Police Department internship program was referred for consideration during Tuesday’s council meeting. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

Nearly $950,00 was moved to the capital reserve fund, most of which will be added to the unappropriated fund balance, which is approximately $1.9 million. Jiles said the administration wants to keep at least $1 million there in case of emergency needs.

The budget revision resolution was forwarded to council on a 5-0 vote, then approved by the full council, 9-0.

A revision to the Community Development Block Grant budget moving $7,735.92 from a completed stormwater lining project on Lenore Street to a sidewalk accessibility project at Ninth and Market streets passed 7-2, with Councilwoman Wendy Tuck and Councilman J.R. Carpenter opposed. Carpenter objected to redirecting the money to a non-stormwater project.

“You need to find that money somewhere else,” he said.

Mayor Tom Joyce agreed stormwater projects are important but said most of them are paid for out of the general fund and capital reserve. He congratulated Development Director Rickie Yeager for applying CDBG funds – which can only be used in certain areas based on income eligibility – to efforts to improve the stormwater system and said it made sense to use the difference to fund an overage on another CDBG project.

“No stormwater project’s getting ripped off by this,” Joyce said.

Council voted 8-0 to extend a $500 B&O tax credit meant to help businesses impacted by the pandemic through the end of the fiscal year. Carpenter recused himself from the vote because his downtown restaurant could benefit.

Council voted 9-0 to pass the first reading of an ordinance establishing an internship program for the Parkersburg Police Department. It would pay prospective officers $10 an hour as they spend 2,080 hours learning about the department in preparation to eventually join and attend the West Virginia State Police Academy.

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