Fifth FY 20-21 budget adjustment approved in Morgantown

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Morgantown city councilors approved the fifth budget revision for the FY 2020-21 budget valued at $4.5 million.

The FY 2020-21 budget was barely out of the gate before the pandemic forced major cuts. Council agreed to cut $3.1 million from the budget in May when tax revenues plummeted.

Since those cuts CARES Act money has been used to reimburse the city for first responder COVID-related expenses and restoring contingency dollars, reinstate the 2.5 percent cost-of-living raises, some promotions, fill some open positions and fund other city departments.

This budget adjustment is driven by increases in revenue as well as the continued influx of federal relief money. The two largest budget revenue drivers have been the B & O tax and the Wine & Liquor Tax that was bumped up by $228,000. The city expects to receive an additional $1.9 million in CARES ACT relief money as well.

“That has consistently increasing (B & O Tax revenue) over this fiscal year and again in the last quarter and the quarter before, so it was a $2.2 million increase,” Morgantown interim finance director Lori Livengood said,” The projects were the Children’s Hospital, Hodges Hall and Reynolds Hall.”

On the expense side, Livengood reported more CARES Act money has been directed to restore cuts previously made and there were increased costs for overtime to clear snow. The largest expense increases were $216,000 for new police department radios and an increase of $131,445 in the line item for the city attorney, Ryan Simonton contracted from Kay, Casto and Chaney.

“Also increased was city attorney,” Livengood said,” We increased that due to legal costs we have incurred that are outside the normal costs covered under his attorney contract.”

Other increases include $1 million added to the Capital Escrow Fund for future projects and an increase for the Contingency Fund.

“We’re allowed by the state to have a contingency fund of ten percent of our budget,” Livengood said,” So, I increased that by $250,000 to allow for the maximum 10 percent allowed by state code.”

The next meeting for the Special Committee on Community Policing and Citizen Review Board will be held Monday, April12 at 3 p.m. and deputy mayor Rachel Fetty provided an update.

“Trying to come up with an ordinance that will address all the concerns that have been raised,” Fetty Said,” We also hope to meet with city management probably sometime later next week to discuss some additional questions.”

Morgantown city clerk Christine Wade reminded councilors early voting for the April 27 Municipal Election will run from April 14 through 24 and absentee ballot applications will be accepted through April 21.

“I will share that we have had an increase in absentee applications, we knew we would and that’s ok,” Wade said,” They’re coming in almost everyday and we look forward to folks being able to utilize the absentee voting process.”