Finance panel OKs contracts, renewals

WEIRTON – The Weirton Finance Committee unanimously voted to recommend 16 agenda items at their regular meeting Thursday, with the understanding that some of those items may face opposition when they reach city council at the next meeting on Monday.

Resolutions for purchases included two digital copiers for the City of Weirton and an attack gun for the Weirton Fire Department.

Numerous resolutions were passed to enter into annual contracts and agreements. These included: a contract for milling and paving for the 2015 fiscal year; a contract for disposal of municipal waste; a contract for GASB 34 accounting services; a maintenance and support agreement with Mountaineer Computer Systems, Inc., for the city’s IT systems, hardware and software; the renewal of a support contract with Accufund, Inc., for the continued support, maintenance and enhancement of the city’s accounting software; and an agreement for workers compensation insurance coverage for the city.

All agenda items related to purchases, agreements and contracts were already accounted for in the city’s budget, according to City Manager Valerie Means.

Committee members approved a resolution to enter into contract for the emergency repair of an engine in a 2010 Ford Expedition for the Weirton Police Department. The repair comes with a three-year warranty. The original engine “blew up” recently, according to Weirton Police Chief Bruce Marshall.

“We really need that car. Since we don’t have any cars ordered, we’re in trouble. Usually we would be looking at cars arriving in August and September,” he said.

Several of the agenda items discussed by the committee will face uncertainty at Monday’s council meeting.

A resolution to enter into a contract for the city’s 2014 Fourth of July fireworks display was recommended by the committee for a second time. It had been voted down by city council in May because of budget concerns; however, Kelli McCoy, Weirton Medical Center director of communications, supplied The Weirton Daily Times with a press release in mid-May stating that “Weirton Medical Center will be spearheading the effort to raise funds for this year’s fireworks display, set to take place July 4 in the city.”

At the meeting Thursday morning, Means told committee members that she had not received necessary documents from WMC representatives yet.

When contacted by The Weirton Daily Times after the committee meeting, McCoy said that she had not been told about the request for a formal document. She later called back to say that the document would be sent to Means before the end of the day Thursday. As of about 2 p.m. Thursday, Means said she had not yet received the information but expected it to arrive soon.

A resolution authorizing the city to contribute to the Weirton Area Community Foundation to support the Wheeling Symphony live concert was also recommended, but is expected to face scrutiny at council’s meeting because of budget issues.

The committee voted to push forward five more agenda items related to the 2015 fiscal budget. These items reflect two potential budget scenarios proposed by Ward 7 Councilman Terry Weigel. They included two ordinances to amend the Weirton municipal fee; two ordinances to amend the police and fire service fee; and a resolution to authorize the city manager to begin the process of enacting a cable franchise fee.

The first of the two most recent scenarios proposed by Weigel is based on adjusting fees according to inflation. It would:

Increase all categories of the police and fire service fee. Residential would increase from $50 to $72. Commercial would increase from 15 cents per square foot to 22 cents per square foot. Churches and schools would increase from 8 cents per square foot to 12 cents per square foot. This would generate an estimated $1,075,409 of additional revenue.

Increase the municipal service fee from $2 per week to $2.61 per week. This would generate an estimated $256,200 of additional revenue.

This proposal would generate an estimated total of $1,331,609, which would still be $268,391 short of closing the projected $1.6 million gap in the 2015 fiscal budget.

Weigel’s second proposed scenario would:

Increase all categories of the police and fire service fee by 50 percent. Residential would increase from $50 to $75. Commercial would increase from 15 cents per square foot to 23 cents per square foot, and churches and school would increase from 8 cents per square foot to 12 cents per square foot. Structures over 500,000 square feet would be invoiced at the new rate (23 cents per square foot) for the first 500,000 square feet and at the current rate (15 cents per square foot) for all square footage over 500,000 square feet. This would generate an estimated $629,775 of additional revenue.

Increase the municipal service fee from $2 per week to $2.50 per week. This would generate an estimated $210,000 of additional revenue.

Establish a cable franchise fee with Comcast at the maximum level of 5 percent. This would generate an estimated $428,863 of additional revenue.

This scenario would generate an estimated total of $1,268,638, which would still be $331,362 short of closing the projected $1.6 million gap in the 2015 fiscal budget.

City Council will consider and vote on the agenda items and the two proposed scenarios at their next regular meeting, Monday at 7:30 p.m. in Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.