PHILIPPI - Philippi City Council is considering an amendment to its rainy day fund ordinance.
The fund is a reserve of money set aside to be used to cover emergencies or be accessed in the case of a deficit or shortfall in the general fund. It can also be used for matching grant funds, capital projects or "any purpose which is deemed necessary or appropriate for the city," according to the Rainy Day Fund ordinance that is already in place for Philippi.
"It does allow cities to save money in case of a storm or some type of event where they (city officials) need to take care of something that is an emergency," City Manager Karen Weaver said Tuesday at City Council's regular meeting.
The rainy day fund cannot be in excess of 30 percent of the city's general fund balance. Although Mayor Jerry Mouser said state code does not restrict cities on the amount they can withdraw at one time from the fund, the ordinance that already is in place for Philippi sets restrictions.
Under a section of the ordinance titled "Procedures and policies of the Rainy Day Fund," two subsections limit Council's possible withdrawal from the fund when needed. Weaver said before any amount of the fund can be withdrawn for any reason, it must come before City Council and be passed by a majority vote.
"No one can spend the funds without coming to Council first," Weaver said.
The current ordinance limits the withdrawal from the rainy day fund for the purposes of a shortfall or deficit in the general fund to no more than 20 percent of the total balance of funds that have been set aside. It also limits the withdrawal of funds for grant-matching expenses, capital projects and other purposes to no more than 15 percent.
The proposed amendments would increase both of those provisions to allow a withdrawal of up to 75 percent of the fund instead. Although the city is not required to set a limitation, Weaver said they still want to have at least 25 percent of the funds in the reserve and not withdraw the entire amount.
"The reason why we looked at that, we suffered a couple severe storms last year," Weaver said. "If we got in a position where we might have to use some of the money to get us back up and running, or some of the services we provide, with the economy today, 15 percent would not allow us to do that."
Weaver also said that many grant-matching requirements are about 30 percent rather than the 15 percent outlined in the ordinance.
Council voted to accept the first reading of the amendments. A second reading must occur before the changes can officially be made.
In other business, the fines for various local parking violations in Philippi were increased by a unanimous vote of City Council Tuesday.
Various types of violations include parking meter fines, excessive overtime fines after having been already ticketed for a violation, double parking fine, the fine for parking in a prohibited zone, parking at a fire hydrant and illegally parking in a handicapped zone.
All but two of the above-mentioned fines will be increased. Parking at a fire hydrant, which carries a fine of $25, and parking in a handicap zone, which carries a fine of $100, will remain the same for now, officials said during a work session prior to the regular meeting.
Council members will review the fines for those violations as outlined by state code and decide if they should also be increased.
Not paying a parking meter could result in someone being fined in one of two ways. If a fine is not paid until after a 24-hour period is expired, that fine will be $10. That part of the fee has not changed. However, if the fine is paid within a 24-hour time period, it will now be $5 instead of the previous $3.
If a person is already ticketed for a parking violation, but remains in violation for an extended amount of time, they could face an additional fine of $7 - formerly $5 - if they also pay it within 24 hours. Otherwise, the fine increases to $10, which was not changed by Council's vote.
The former fines for a vehicle that double parks and a vehicle parked in a prohibited zone were each $20 and both fines will now increase to $25.
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