Buckhannon mulling leftover budget funds

Buckhannon City Administrator/Treasurer Michael Doss said he’s found a solution that could satisfy everyone regarding leftover funds in the city’s current fiscal year general fund budget, which requires City Council to revise it at the July 18 meeting.

Doss said the funds that now need to be allocated into the current general fund budget are the result of being conservative when allocating funds to the various budget line items. He said the line items in municipal budgets often are handled in this fashion to allow for fluctuations in the cost of materials or for other unanticipated expenses.

The Buckhannon City Council met in special session Monday to review Doss’s recommendations on the matter, but it will not vote until July 18. Mayor Kenneth Davidson said that Doss’s recommendations would be “formalized” at the next meeting.

“I think this is a good thing for everybody,” Doss said. “It gets us paying down some debt. We don’t have to mess with our CD. The rainy day (fund) is still intact. It gives us options in the infancy stage of this fiscal year.”

The budget revisions are due in late July, Doss said last week, adding that the council needs to make a revision by its last meeting in July. City Councilman Dave Thomas attended the special meeting by phone, while John Waltz was absent.

In other City Council matters:

  • At its regular meeting last week, council was indecisive about whether to contract out the completion of the Public Safety Complex or have its own city workers perform the job. At the special meeting Monday, Doss recommended that the council use 70 percent of its available workers to focus on the job at the beginning of the next calendar year.

“I know what I’m advocating,” Doss said. “I would advocate that we forego contracting out. We should use our guys in the winter.”

Doss said that whether the council contracted the job or utilized its city workers for the task, the work could be completed in “roughly the same time.”

At the previous meeting, Street Commissioner Jerry Arnold said that his workers could complete the task more efficiently and productively if they did not have to pause in their performance of the job to perform other tasks, like plowing snow. He said it would help if those workers could focus only on one task until it is completed. Council will consider hiring seasonal employees to help with other tasks during the completion of the project.

  • The completion of the Public Safety Complex project will allow the police department to move from the basement of Buckhannon City Hall into the new building, offering a more spacious work environment to the officers. Council members agreed last week that completing the project was a priority for the police department.
  • Doss said Council has $81,477.37 on a certificate of deposit that needs to be appropriated because auditors see the potential for those funds to be liquidated as cash. At last week’s meeting, council members agreed they wanted to leave the funds alone. Doss recommended that the council place the CD funds into the Council Capital Outlay Fund, which would bring that fund balance up to $160,033 and give the council more control over where and how those funds are spent.

At last week’s meeting, council members also were divided about paying off some debts or placing additional money into its rainy day fund. Thomas wanted the funds to pay off some of council’s debts, which he said he believed would save the city money in the long run.

Doss said he looked at the highest interest rates in debts that did not involve a facility, such as with the National Guard Armory and Convention Center project. Those non-facility debts involve vehicles or equipment and total $215,010.41. Two 2013 police cruisers carry a combined balance of $56,809.85 at an interest rate of 5.85 percent. Doss said those cruisers are scheduled to be paid off in September of 2015.

Council makes an annual payment of $18,936 on the cruisers. Doss said that almost $7,000 could be saved by paying those debts off early. He recommends that the cruisers be paid off early with the leftover fund balance money.

“I think it’s a good recommendation that you’re making for the city,” Thomas said.