Chester approves budget, buys truck

CHESTER – Despite a lean budget outlook, Chester City Council approved a lease-purchase agreement for a new street department truck Monday night.

Council accepted a $65,333 bid from Grand Ford in East Liverpool for a 2014 Ford 550 dump truck, which comes equipped with a snow plow and a salt spreader. The truck will replace a 2000 GMC dump truck that has become too expensive to maintain, said Street Superintendent Steve Shuman, who also sits on council.

“I put a lot of money into it the last couple of years,” said Shuman, who abstained from the vote. He told council that the silver GMC currently won’t start.

“We need a new truck. That’s the bottom line,” Mayor Ken Morris said.

To pay for the truck, council approved a five-year lease-purchase agreement with Country Roads Leasing LLC for monthly payments of $1,228, at a 3.65 percent interest rate.

After five years, the city will own the truck, which will keep the street department fleet at four, Shuman said. The truck has a four-ton capacity and will be used for, among other things, winter plowing and salting, he said.

Before voting, council debated the large purchase in light of a 2014-2015 budget that is smaller than the current fiscal year’s budget by about $53,000.

“We just have to bite the bullet,” Councilman Dennis Murray said, noting that the cost savings in fewer repair bills can be used toward the monthly lease payments.

“We can keep tabling this,” Morris said, “but it’s just going to be a distraction.”

Council also approved the 2014-2015 budget on Monday. The $747,349 budget includes $133,000 for the street department, $473,843 for public safety (mostly police department expenditures), and $140,506 for general government operations.

With a video lottery check of $140,000 expected in July, Morris said he’s confident there will be enough money in the budget for the new truck.

“We’ll have to make payments,” he said. “We’ll adjust the budget accordingly to fit that truck in there.”

City Clerk Sandra Parkins said she can make revisions to the budget until July, depending on how the city ends the fiscal year.

“This (budget) could change,” she said. “These numbers could go up, they could go down.”

Although the new fiscal year starts July 1, West Virginia cities and counties must submit their budgets to the state auditor’s office by March 31. That means municipalities must estimate what their revenue will be for the last three months of the fiscal year.

Also Monday, council:

Approved four bids for the renovation of the Chester Municipal Building’s entrance on Indiana Avenue. The $7,000 project will include new concrete steps, new security doors, new floor tiles and new lighting, Councilman Mike Dotson said.

The city will use grant money to pay for the project, in addition to providing a 10 percent match, he said. The work will be done sometime this summer.

Accepted an $875 quote from SimplexGrinnell for testing and inspecting the fire alarm system in the municipal building.

Donated $200 to the Oak Glen Junior Bears Softball/Baseball Association. Morris broke a 2-2 tie in favor of the donation.

Approved Police Chief Ken Thorn’s request to hold another civil service exam to keep the list active.

Learned that Chester’s spring cleanup is being held all week. Residents who want to contribute can obtain gloves and bags from the clerk’s office. To arrange for pickup, contact Dotson.

(Huba can be contacted at shuba@reviewonline.com)