Elkins looks at spending sales tax revenue

ELKINS — Elkins City Council discussed in more detail how it might spend the revenues from the new 1 percent sales tax during a special call meeting Thursday evening.

Though nothing was finalized Thursday, council members have narrowed down which areas they feel the money should be spent in as they prepare to create the 2020 fiscal year budget.

Council is now looking at spending $100,000 from the sales tax revenue for current City Hall projects, including renovations; and $45,000 for current projects at the Phil Gainer Community Center.

The total cost of the proposed upgrades at the center is $740,000. Operations Manager Bob Pingley said, “The majority is HVAC work, a new airconditioning system, updating the heating system. Also electrical work and some new windows.”

The city is also looking at spending $20,000 of the revenue on a hanging basket expansion project; $500 for adoption of a new zoning ordinance; and $7,500 for signage or a kiosk outside City Hall for better public notification.

Council is considering using $50,000 of the revenue to create a fund for the demolition of condemned structures; $25,000 to create a matching grant fund; and $7,000 for direct marketing of the city.

The city may spend $33,000 to improve parking and pedestrian safety in Tablet Square, but the grant application for that project has not yet been approved after more than a year and a half, officials said.

The grant application requested more than $100,000.

“We’re just waiting to hear whether that’s been approved or not,” City Clerk Jessica Sutton said.

Council is looking at spending $60,000 on GIS (Geographic Information System) needs. A GIS program can be used to map sewer and water systems and has many other uses, officials said. The funds would be used to purchase hardware and software, and to contract someone to program and maintain the system, perhaps in partnership with another government entity.

The council members talked about spending $50,000 to implement streetscape improvements, including projects such as adding bike racks to downtown, improving parking and placing welcome signs.

Also discussed was spending $20,000 on codification, which Sutton said is badly needed.

“The published charter code on the (city’s) web site is from 1991,” she said. “Anything newer than that isn’t there… It’s not good service to the public. We really need to get it all online.”

The city is also looking at spending $100,000 of the sales tax revenue on planning for improving the City Hall parking lot, and at using $125,000 to hire a new Elkins Police Department officer, including providing a vehicle.

Council is considering spending $40,000 to hire, or contract, a public relations person responsible for all the city’s media; $5,400 to review the city charter and recommend changes; and $1,200 to hire or contract a city arborist.

All told, the suggested expenditures from the sales tax revenue would total $689,600.

The city has received two sales tax revenue checks from the state thus far, totaling $474,413.37 in the first five months after the tax went into effect.