Morgantown City Council moves forward with 2024 FY budget valued at $43 million

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. The City of Morgantown will add an approximately $43 million budget for the 2024 fiscal year to the agenda.

The first reading of the budget presents an approximately eight percent increase from the previous fiscal year’s first proposal and includes changes in expenses involving city employees and revenues that Morgantown Finance Director Kevin Tennant says are beginning to flatline. Revenues are projected to be slightly above the city budget with room for contingency, escrow, and rainy day funds, though some revenue streams have remained steady or have begun to decline.

“They’re strong, and in most instances they are exceeding budgets this current year, but you will see some flattening of our revenues,” said Tennant on the revenues projected in the budget.

Revenue streams for the city that Tennant says have actually surpassed pre-COVID levels come mainly from the Business and Occupancy (B&O) Tax (estimated at $14.2 million). That will cover approximately one-third of the city budget, with approximately $9.5 million estimated from the municipal sales tax. Hotel and motel revenues as well as liquor sales tax revenues are back to pre-COVID levels, according to Tennant (close to $2 million combined), but funds from the municipal service fee ($4.1 million) and B&O construction ($500,000) are on the decline. The former all-time highs for the municipal service fee (formerly $4.5 million) will be reached in the near future.

“We took a dip there with people working from home, and still there’s a lot of businesses that have people working from home, so I don’t know if we’ll ever get back up to that $4.5 million,” said Tennant on municipal service fee revenues.

No changes were mentioned by Tennant in the revenue estimates from property taxes ($4.6 million) or the fire service fee ($4.1 million). Approximately $5 million will carry over from the previous year’s budget.

Expenses for the City of Morgantown for the 2024 fiscal year include pay raises for city employees as well as three new hires, with one subcontract involving the incoming Morgantown Police Training Facility expected to turn into a full-time position. A.82 percent one-step increase is included, as is a two percent cost of living adjustment. Increases are also being seen in insurance premium expenses (six percent) and designations for pension funds for police, fire, and non-civil service pensions (21.6 percent of salaries). The increases are projected to be on par with other municipalities in the Mountain State.

“I believe the city manager and assistant city manager surveyed some local municipalities just to see what everybody else was doing, and I think most were within that two- to three-percent range,” said Tennant on the pay raises included in the budget.

Capital escrow for the 2024 fiscal year is estimated at approximately $7.5 million, down about $1 million from the previous year. The majority of the funds will go towards street improvements ($2.1 million) and the general fund ($1.2 million), with over $750,000 separately designated for the Morgantown Airport’s runway extension project and various parks and culture projects. The budget is still expected to go through several revisions before its second release in July, with meetings scheduled to take place in the coming months.

“We’re still having workshops, and individuals who can’t happen to attend workshops are welcome to call in questions or schedule additional meetings to make sure that everyone gets their questions answered,” said Morgantown Mayor Jenny Selin.