PARKERSBURG - Describing the process as comprehensive, continuous and no small effort, Mayor Bob Newell presented Parkersburg City Council on Tuesday with the proposed 2011-2012 budget.
City officials presented council with a proposed budget of more than $23.7 million. The proposed budget is about $51,000 more than the 2010-2011 budget, despite more than $1 million in cuts, according to Newell.
The city is expecting almost $310,000 from increases in police and fire pensions ($263,000), liability insurance ($26,304) and electricity costs ($20,000).
Mayor Newell talks at Parkersburg
The mayor said it was no small effort to make the cuts.
"We have worked continuously on the budget for the last year in preparation for this year's budget. Department heads and employees alike have all made significant efforts and sacrifices to arrive at the final numbers," Newell said.
Newell presented council with a budget with increased health insurance premium costs and without longevity pay increases for employees.
Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell delivers his State of the City address during Tuesday's city council meeting. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
Newell, in his budget address to council, said many items that were "non-essential to daily services" were cut. However, the budget does contain proposals for six new police cruisers, a street sweeper and a cardboard bailer for the sanitation department.
Newell told council the city plans to put together a significant milling and paving contract for streets.
And he pledged to continue support of enhancement projects. Newell said the city will continue, despite any setbacks, to pursue the completion of the Fifth and Avery Street enhancements, the Little Kanawha Connector, the skate plaza and Riverfront Park.
In reaffirming the city's commitment to these projects, the mayor singled out the "thoughts of a small group of citizens against virtually everything."
"These are all worthwhile projects that make our city safer and improve the quality of life, and create work for our citizens."
Councilman John Sandy supported Newell's commitments to development, specifically the Little Kanawha Rails to Trails connector.
"All these things to me are vital," he said.
The budget was received, filed and referred to the Committee of the Whole. Vice President John Rockhold, who chairs the committee, said it will meet Feb. 26 at 10 a.m. in council chambers to review the document.
Sandy, who voted against the user fee and has outlined proposed cuts in lieu of the fee, vowed a thorough review. He said officials-while estimating $2.5 million in user fee revenue budgeted only $2.1 million-have no idea yet how much money will be realized.
"I don't think we are finished with the budget," he said.