WELLSBURG — A review of the city’s budget for fiscal year 2022 led to much debate among Wellsburg council members on Tuesday.
The $1.7 million budget was approved by 1st Ward councilors Jack Kins and Jerry Nichols, 2nd Ward council members Paul T. Billiard and Mary Margaret Rosso, and 4th Ward councilor Della Serevicz.
But he was opposed by 4th Ward Councilman Charlie Harris and 3rd Ward Councilors Randy Fletcher and Tom Gaudio.
Harris said the budget should include funds for street paving while suggesting the police department is overfunded.
Fletcher and Gaudio expressed concerns about cuts to the volunteer fire department and city parks.
Fletcher noted that about $40,000 has been allocated to the fire department, which has received $50,000 to $70,000 in recent years.
Gaudio, who chairs the city’s parks and recreation committee, said the city’s parks budget is $10,000, about a third of what he received last year.
But the three also said they did not feel well informed about the budget presented to them.
Francine Kraus, administrative assistant to City Manager Steve Maguschak, noted that the budget had already been submitted to the state auditor’s office to meet last month’s deadline.
“It’s not the night to discuss it. The night to discuss it was before it was handed over to the state,” she told the council members.
Rosso, who chairs the city’s finance committee, said the budget was presented to that panel earlier and council members were told it would be on the agenda. She said that those present at the committee meeting had no questions.
After Tuesday’s meeting, Gaudio said he received a copy of the budget the day before and lacked time to review it thoroughly. Harris said he was unable to attend the meeting because he was sick.
But the point was raised that the board should have collectively met earlier to discuss the budget.
Rosso said she asked Maguschak and Kraus about it on her own and thought it would have been better if the board could have done it as a group.
Maguschak said he suggested holding a budget workshop meeting in December or January, and Billiard noted that there had been such meetings in the past.
In response to concerns expressed about the posts, Kraus noted that they can be adjusted during a fiscal year to meet unforeseen expenses.
After the meeting, Maguschak said he warned the board that revenues had not kept up with rising costs and that new sources of funding needed to be explored to pursue capital improvements.
He said the cost of asphalt is about $13 per square foot, and it will cost about $289,000 to pave Charles and Main streets between Second and 12th streets.
Both street sections have recently been ground and will be paved as part of a major water main replacement project. The city’s water and wastewater departments have their own separate budgets.
Maguschak said he hopes to employ the contractor to pave other areas.
He told council members that the fire department was well within its budget for this year.
And the board recently learned, through its recently hired grants writer, of potential funding sources for the parks.
Harris criticized the board’s current procedures.
He noted that a few years ago the various board committees were moved to one night for the convenience of board members sitting on them, but this led to many board members meeting instead of the mix of council and citizens who once made up the committees. .
Harris said it is up to council, not committees, to vote on city matters.