MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Members of Morgantown City Council approved the first reading of the 2024-25 budget with an adjustment made towards extra funding for the city library.

The first reading of the ordinance to approve the $45,031,858 budget for 2024–25 that included an adjustment of $20,000 towards library operations was unanimously approved by council during their meeting Tuesday night. The funds were adjusted from both the city ‘Operating Transfers Out’ fund and contingency fund after a meeting with Morgantown Finance Director Kevin Tennant and Morgantown Library Director Sarah Palfrey after council’s February committee of the whole.

“This is reflected in the Operating Transfer outline that’s in the ordinance, and that increased $20,000, we took the $20,000 out of contingency,” said Tennant on the change in the budget.

Projected city municipal sales taxes of $9.6 million, $4,675,000 in property taxes, $4,125,500 in municipal fire fees, $1.2 million in hotel occupancy taxes and $845,000 in beer and wine taxes remain unchanged.

The $4.2 million in projected revenue from the $3 Municipal Service Fee (MSF) remained unchanged as well.

After the adjustment, the city contingency fund will be at $518,826, if no other adjustments are made in the next few months. The city’s Operating Transfers Out fund, which will be used to support programs such as BOPARC, will increase to a expenditure total of $10,184,777, $920,000 of that will be directed towards the library operating budget. Slight adjustments are also expected to be made when county property tax notes are calculated before the second reading of the 2024-25 budget is presented to council.

“I was handed the property tax information from the county today, so I will make that calculation and have that ready and included in the second reading in a couple of weeks,” said Tennant.

A $320,000 increase in salaries, taxes, and pension contributions also remained unchanged since the 2024-25 budget was presented in February.

While that was the only adjustment to the budget announced by Tennant, Morgantown City Councilor Danielle Trumble told fellow councilors to expect calls for contingency funds to be directed towards supporting a Mountain Line free rider program in the near future. This stems from conversations with the board of directors at Hazel’s House of Hope and tenants on the Scott Avenue property who do not have a grant related fund to support free ridership like last year for a route with the social service hub as a stop. With a fund that was formerly set up by the city, Monongalia County Commission and local non-profits not expected to continue for a second straight year due to increase in costs, Trumble expects either grant funding or city funds would be needed to continue the service.

“I just want council to be aware that a bill will likely be incoming for that (bus) line, sometime this summer,” said Trumble. “And we need to do what we can to make sure that it’s free to riders,” she said.

The grant awarded last year was valued at approximately $35,000, which according to Trumble, provided about ten months worth of free Mountain Line ridership to city residents and people in need. Trumble expects for some money, if it can be found, to directly benefit lines for residents in need of social or life providing services, particularly clients of Hazel’s House of Hope tenants such as the Bartlett House. While the second reading of the budget does not expect to see significant differences, Trumble encouraged fellow councilors to put the issue on their radar.

“That’s a key component of services at Hazel’s House of Hope, but is used by many more riders than just people who reside or utilize services at H3,” said Trumble. “It goes to Walmart, it goes to other places out Scott Avenue,” she said.

A second reading of the 2024-25 City of Morgantown is expected be up for a vote by the end of March.