Budget leaves city with big decision

Weirton City Council learned this week the city received a carryover of $151,000 from the 2012-2013 fiscal year budget.

That’s good news as it shows the continuing fiscal responsibility the city has displayed in recent years in cutting costs and watching its bottom line.

However, it also places some big decisions at the feet of councilmembers who now must figure out what to do with the surplus. Currently, the money is in a contingency fund established by the city for use in the event of a major emergency or if funding becomes unavailable for ongoing projects.

There are numerous options currently before council, but the available carryover will allow one, possibly two, such programs to move forward.

Among the possible options before council are the costs of new contracts with the Weirton Fraternal Order of Police and the Weirton Municipal Employees Union, designating a training officer for the Weirton Fire Department, which also would necessitate the promotion of another firefighter to the rank of lieutenant while hiring a new firefighter; making sure the city’s health insurance costs are met; instituting new energy-saving measures suggested to the city through a recent study; purchasing new equipment or possibly even bailing out the city’s sanitation department which, apparently, has been operating over budget for quite some time.

Each of these projects have their valid points and are deserving on consideration.

The city’s Sanitation Department, for example, is responsible for collecting residents’ garbage, and if funding isn’t put forth to keep it operating, the other options would be to either privatize the department or increase rates.

The fire department’s proposed training officer position has been discussed for more than a year now with little action taken.

The energy-saving measures, in the meantime, could potentially help the city to save money in the long run.

The union contracts, on the other hand, would require more than the new funding surplus, and need to be available each year.

We’re sure there will be many discussions, and possibly even a few arguments, before anything is finalized. We just encourage council to keep the best interests of the citizens of Weirton in mind when making this decision.