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Parkersburg City Council approves $2M carryover

Parkersburg Finance Director Eric Jiles discusses proposed allocations for the city’s $2 million carryover from the previous fiscal year during Tuesday’s Parkersburg City Council meeting at the Municipal Building. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

PARKERSBURG — The allocation of more than $2 million in carryover funds from the fiscal year that ended June 30 was approved Tuesday by Parkersburg City Council.

Asked by Councilwoman Wendy Tuck to explain the reason for the seven-figure unencumbered fund balance, Finance Director Eric Jiles noted the city carried more than $3.7 million from fiscal year 2019-20 into 2020-21 due to the infusion of federal C.A.R.E.S. Act funds near the end of that fiscal year.

The city actually spent nearly $1.2 million more in fiscal 2020-21 than it took in, Jiles said, but because of the high fund balance coming in, there were still unencumbered funds left over going into the new financial year.

Proposed allocations include $673,617 toward the eventual replacement and upgrade of the Southwood Park pool, $257,987 in the user fee fund for street paving, $179,125 to replace Police Department Tasers no longer supported by the manufacturer and $175,000 toward an underground stormwater retention project in the Beechwood area.

The resolution was referred to the full council by the Finance Committee, but Councilman J.R. Carpenter said that given the magnitude of the figures, it should have gone before the Committee of the Whole, which consists of all nine members of council.

Parkersburg City Council President Zach Stanley, left, discusses his experience with a use-of-force training simulator in the military as Councilman J.R. Carpenter listens during Tuesday’s council meeting at the Municipal Building. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

“This is budget information, not just money transfers, normal ones,” said Carpenter, a member of the Finance Committee who was unable to attend the meeting in which the resolution was considered.

Carpenter said he was not opposed to any of the revisions but wanted more information, specifically on $135,000 designated for a use-of-force training simulator for the Police Department.

Police Chief Joe Martin said it is an interactive system consisting of three screens to allow officers to train on de-escalation in hundreds of lifelike situations.

“De-escalation’s a big deal, has been a big deal, that’s the hot topic for a lot of the police haters,” he said. “This training actually identifies that, and it helps the officers navigate through different scenarios.”

Council President Zach Stanley said he used such a simulator in the military before being deployed overseas.

Parkersburg Police Chief Joe Martin describes a $135,000 use-of-force training simulator proposed for the department to purchase with carryover funds during Tuesday’s Parkersburg City Council meeting at the Municipal Building. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

“It’s better to make a mistake there than it is in real life,” he said.

Mayor Tom Joyce said the system is state of the art and benefits police and the citizens of Parkersburg.

“I think in the grand scheme of things, this is not a great deal of money when you’re dealing with officer safety and the public’s safety,” he said.

The resolution was approved 8-1, with Tuck opposed.

In other business, council voted 9-0 to approve the final reading of an ordinance extending a $500 business and occupation tax exemption for restaurants and retail establishments, service businesses and those renting or leasing real property through the next two quarters.

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