Buckhannon approves project funding

BUCKHANNON –Buckhannon City Council approved a large budget revision that allows extra funding for some special projects.

Amberle Jenkins, director of finance and administration, said budget revisions are for council to approve further expenditures and to adjust line items where more revenues may have been collected or more money expended than anticipated at the time of the budget approval.

On Thursday, Jenkins presented a $183,898 budget revision that factors in several changes including $53,386 more collected under the B&O contractors line items and $52,000 from the arts and culture grant the city received.

Jenkins suggested that the $52,000 increase from the arts and culture grant be redistributed.

“In events and fire works expense, I marked $12,000 to put into that,” she said. “This is something I want you to talk about it.”

Jenkins said she was proposing $2,500 towards the city’s Fourth of July fireworks celebration.

The city also did not budget for a Strawberry Festival contribution but usually gives $5,000.

Jenkins also referenced the project to put sound equipment in Jawbone Park.

Councilman Robbie Skinner said, “I agree that we need to budget for the Fourth of July. Some of us have beaten our brains in fundraising for this. This is a city event. This is a community event. To me, we look at it the same as the Strawberry Festival or Festival Fridays. This is a public event that is good for our community. This is something we have basically taken on to sponsor. I am in favor that we actually budget for it this year.”

Skinner said fundraising is difficult because it is just a few weeks after the Strawberry Festival.

“There is donor fatigue in the community to come back up and say we need another $10,000 or $15,000,” he said. “I believe we should consider funding the fireworks.”

Councilman C.J. Rylands said, “I agree with Robbie’s comments.”

Councilwoman Pam Cuppari, who heads up the Fourth of July committee, said, “People are starting to say that Buckhannon is definitely having fireworks year after year. It would be a shame if Buckhannon would not have fireworks.”

Skinner added, “I think we should honor supporting the Strawberry Festival and Festival Fridays. We have to do our part of helping to create the viability of our community as well.”

McCauley also noted that the sound system doesn’t just benefit Festival Fridays but all events held at the park.

Jenkins told the council, “That $52,000 at the top (under revenue) would take care of the sound equipment if you want to contribute $10,000 to that, the fireworks payment of $2,500, the Strawberry Festival payment of $5,000 and I would like to recycle some of the rest of that money back into the theatre to try to keep that project moving with some part-time labor.”

“Jerry’s men are just stretched to the limits. They don’t have time to work on this all the time and I think we need to get some part-time people in there to work on this project and try to get some things knocked out. We are asking for grant money and we need to make some progress with this grant money.”

Jenkins also noted there had been an increase in $61,000 for health insurance expenses due to an additional police officer and possible coverage changes such as when someone got married and added a family member.

Referencing the part-time labor for the Colonial Theatre project, McCauley said, “As part of our application that is due for the state grant again, we have to be able to show about the time that we apply for Phase II that we have made progress with Phase 1A and 1B. There are some things we need to do in the next couple of months. This allows the labor and the other stuff to continue to happen there. It is money that was sent to us for that purpose anyway.”

Following some more discussion, Rylands moved to approve the budget resolution which was seconded by Skinner and passed unanimously.

Council will meet in special session Monday, Feb. 18 to begin budget discussions for 2019-2020.

In other business, council accepted a riverfront property from Tammy Hatfield. McCauley said the property is three or four lots up from Cook’s Store on Island Avenue and has no standing structure — just an old foundation.

“It is important that the city be in a position to control as much of the riverbank property as we can,” he said.

Councilwoman Mary Albaugh moved to accept the property, seconded by Rylands and the motion passed. A formal deed will be drawn up.