Council OKs 2014-2015 fiscal budget

WEIRTON – Weirton City Council voted unanimously to approve the proposed 2014-2015 fiscal budget at its regular meeting Monday.

The decision comes largely as result of time constraint, it was explained. City officials intend to make further changes, but the plan must be sent to Charleston no later than Friday.

Ward 6 Councilman David Dalrymple will chair a new committee to help weigh public opinion, prioritize city services and research the options regarding new sources of revenue, including a proposed business and occupation tax as well as a cable franchise fee. Mayor George Kondik will serve as co-chair. The idea sprung from discussion at Thursday’s budget workshop, and although membership has not been concretely established yet, a survey for committee members to rank the city’s services in order to determine where cut-backs are most prudent is in the works.

Council members also unanimously voted to pass a resolution authorizing the city manager to accept a grant through ArcelorMittal to fund a $7,500 cutter and spreader tool, similar to the “Jaws of Life,” for the Weirton Fire Department. The instrument is designed to cut through high-strength steel used in newer vehicle models, and it is utilized to remove people from car wreckage after accidents, officials explained. The new equipment weighs about 30 pounds and is portable.

Fire Chief Jerry Shumate explained that the old cutter-spreader was purchased in 2002 and no longer cuts through high grade steel. He then thanked council members and ArcelorMittal for the upgrade.

Council members convened into an executive session that lasted about 20 minutes to discuss the potential of property at Half Moon Industrial Park in cooperation with the Business Development Corp.

In other business, Kondik proclaimed April 1 to be National Service Recognition Day in the city in honor of volunteers and their efforts.

“It is such an honor to receive this,” Candy Witting, local volunteer coordinator, said as she accepted the proclamation. “I have many volunteers that I place, and I’d like to challenge the entire council here to volunteer.”

Kondik also congratulated the Weir Middle School girls basketball team with a Mayor’s Award for winning the Buckeye Mountaineer Conference Championship for the second consecutive year.

“On behalf of the City of Weirton we are proud of your hard work and dedication,” he said.

Bailey Stead, a player on the team, took to the podium to thank a list of officials who helped find the team places to practice after their gym floor was destroyed by a water line break.

Kondik awarded plaques to local seventh graders Lindsay McAfee and Andrea Alimario for winning the statewide “If I Were Mayor,” essay contest. McAfee attends St. Paul Catholic School, and Alimario is a student at St. Joseph the Worker Grade School. In addition to the two state winners, Sarah Ross was selected by officials as the city winner and also received the Mayor’s Award.

McAfee and Alimario read their essays to council members and attendees at the packed meeting. Alimario dreamed of a more youth-oriented city with cleaner air, land and water and a more revitalized business community, while McAfee envisioned being a mayor dedicated to helping her constituents and recognizing their hardships without being concerned about election season and partisan politics.

Public Works Director John Brown informed city council that the salt supply is adequate and his department is prepared for the winter storm, which is predicted to take place Wednesday.

“We’re ready for it,” he said.

Library Director Rik Rekowski reminded council that the Festival of Nations will be taking place at the Millsop Community Center Saturday. He encouraged everyone present to attend.

(Dalrymple can be contacted at