Wheeling Budget Nears $35 Million Mark This Year

WHEELING — Even though Wheeling leaders plan to spend about $35 million in the new fiscal year that begins July 1, City Manager Robert Herron said employees will face a 5-percent increase in health care premiums without seeing an immediate pay raise.

Herron, Mayor Glenn Elliott and Vice Mayor Chad Thalman hope they can provide a pay increase for firefighters, police officers, secretaries, public works department employees and and other city workers in July, once the current fiscal year comes to an end.

“Pay raises and other non-essential spending will be considered at the end of the fiscal year, once we know what revenue streams to expect and what the cash carryover will be. In addition to making investments in city playgrounds and paving, the current city council approved a 3-percent pay raise in the fall of 2016 and a 2.5-percent pay raise in 2017,” Thalman said. “I’m hopeful that the upcoming budget will allow us to do the same in 2018.”

Wheeling City Council will discuss the fiscal 2018-19 budget during a work session at 11 a.m. Tuesday on the first floor of the City-County Building, 1500 Chapline St. The regular council meeting will follow at noon in the same location.

Comparisons

City leaders plan to spend about $1,275 for each of Wheeling’s 27,375 residents in fiscal year 2018-19. That per-capita spending is more than double the $617.46 Wheeling used for each person who lived in the city in the year 2000.

The exact new balanced budget estimate is $34,949,392. This reflects an increase of $455,136 from the current fiscal year.

“As you know, West Virginia cities are required to have an approved budget to the state auditor’s office in late March. Normally, much more productive conversations on budgeting occur toward the end of the fiscal year and the early stages of the next fiscal year,” Herron said.

Revenue

The city’s main source of revenue continues to be the business and occupation tax. According to the budget projection, Herron expects receipts to increase slightly for the fiscal year beginning July 1, with $7 million firmly anticipated, along with another $2.9 million in delinquent B&O taxes the city intends to collect. Each number is slightly greater than the amounts approved for the current fiscal year.

Another major revenue source will be real estate taxes, which Herron expects to be $3.28 million, about $50,000 more than what’s projected for this year. Municipal sales tax revenue, meanwhile, is expected to grow by $390,000 in the new year to reach $3.6 million.

The city anticipates receiving $1.92 million from sanitation collection fees, while receipts from fire protection fees are expected at just over $2 million. Utility business tax collections should come in at about $1.92 million.

Herron expects $485,000 in revenue from taxes paid by Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack, as well as $331,300 from those who operate limited video lottery machines.

Though a relatively small source of revenue, the city expects to collect $55,000 from the vacant building registration program which officials enacted several years ago via home rule authority.

Expenses

Fire and police protection are the city’s largest expenses, as Wheeling intends to pay more than $10.4 million for fire department services in the new year, along with more than $8.3 million for police.

A third major area of spending for Wheeling is streets and highways, as $4.53 million is allocated for this. Wheeling generally funds street paving projects at the end of the fiscal year with the cash carryover funding in July.

At this point, the budget does not include pay raises for any city workers, nor does it fund any additional positions. However, the city often provides funding for raises or new positions from any cash carryover at the conclusion of the fiscal year in July.

For fiscal year 2018-19, Herron will earn $122,014; City Solicitor Rosemary Humway-Warmuth will collect $85,755; Finance Director Seth McIntyre will get $81,293; Police Chief Schwertfeger will earn $79,194; Fire Chief Larry Helms will collect $79,182; Public Works Director Russell Jebbia will get $79,194; Human Resources Director Teresa Hudrlik will earn $70,749; Economic and Community Development Director Nancy Prager will earn $65,618; City Engineer Conrad Slanina will earn $62,292; Assistant Economic and Community Development Director Tom Connelly will receive $58,118; Director of Parks and Strategic Planning Jesse Mestrovic will get $53,812; City Clerk Brenda Delbert will be paid $49,498; and Marketing and Community Relations Specialist Allison Skibo will earn $48,687.

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