PARKERSBURG - The city's proposed $25.4 million budget puts an emphasis on the city's infrastructure.
In his budget address to Parkersburg City Council Tuesday, Mayor Bob Newell highlighted a number of points in the proposed 2012-2013 budget, many of which were related to infrastructure.
Newell touched on stormwater management, street improvements, bridge repair and the demolition of about 30 slum and blighted structures. Newell is proposing pouring $1 million into streets, $835,000 into bridge repairs and $250,000 for demolition of rundown and blighted structures.
Photo by Brett Dunlap
Parkersburg City Councilman Brad Kimes looks at the city’s 2012-2013 budget Tuesday night after Mayor Bob Newell presented it to council.
"... We have never been able to properly fund a serious demolition contract before," he said. "Sixty thousand a year does not accomplish what we need to do and using CDBG funds slows the process to a crawl because of all the strings attached to the federal funding."
Newell said he wants the city to tear down 25-30 houses by the end of the summer.
Council President Tom Joyce called the proposed demolitions a "step in the right direction.
At A Glance
Mayor Bob Newell said he wants the city to tear down 25-30 houses by the end of the summer.
Newell is proposing spending $1 million on streets, $835,000 for bridge repairs and $250,000 for demolition of rundown and blighted structures.
"I'd like to see them tear down 30 houses," he said. "I think that's great."
Newell delivered a 10-minute budget address to council, highlighting the proposed $25.4 million outline.
There will be a lot of changes in this year's budget, according to the mayor. He said the proposed budget tops $25.1 million; that's about $600,000 more than the 2011-2012 budget. But he told council the proposed 2012-2013 budget has nearly $700,000 in line item cuts.
"This is much different than last year's budget," he said.
"The budget reflects nearly $3 million going directly into streets, infrastructure and services," he said. "The user fee is going back into services."
"Last year, when city council was contemplating the service user fee I made it clear that this was not going to be a bailout for the city," Newell added. "I also stated that the money would be used for services, as it was intended."
The city has removed the floodwall fee and avoided implementing a stormwater fee, using the recently enacted user fee to begin steps to create a stormwater utility to tackle the federal stormwater mandates. He told council the cuts save every household $6.25 and every business $25 in additional fees.
Money for the repairs to the Memorial Bridge will come from the bridge fund, not general fund revenues.
The budget does not include any proposed pay raises for employees. It also does not include longevity pay. Newell is asking council to review the practice, and consider a base salary increase if feasible.
"The annual incentive pay program has robbed us of the ability to ever raise our base salaries in all positions," he said. "There are numerous examples where employees are paid more than their supervisors purely because of their length of service and incentive program."
City Council Vice President Nancy Wilcox, who chairs the committee, said she needs time to review the budget before commenting on the proposals.
"We might need to spend money someplace else," she said. "We've got a week."
Council members do not get to discuss the budget until Feb. 21, when it convenes as the Committee of the Whole. Wilcox said the meetings will be Feb. 21 and 22, if needed.
Councilman John Sandy attended the meeting, his first in a couple of months, after announcing his battle with throat cancer.
Council also soundly defeated a proposed ordinance establishing rental rates for the Riverfront Park amphitheater. Only three council members, Brad Kimes, John Rockhold and Joyce, voted "yes."
Council member Sharyn Tallman said the amphitheater should not be a moneymaker.
Newell noted the rates up for approval (from the finance committee) were higher than those the administration presented. Newell said he'll represent the original rates ($20 an hour or $150 a day for nonprofit use, and $30 an hour or $220 a day for for-profit use) to council again for consideration.