City of Wheeling’s Proposed $34.9 Million Budget Differs From This Year’s by Only About $6,000

File Photo Operation of the city’s fire department is the largest line item in Wheeling’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2019-20, which comes in overall at about $6,000 less than the current year.

WHEELING — The city’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year is set to remain about the same as its current budget at just under $35 million.

Wheeling City Council will discuss the fiscal year 2019-20 budget during a Finance Committee meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday, City Clerk Brenda Delbert said. Then, council will vote on whether to adopt the budget at its 5:30 p.m. meeting that day.

“The proposed budget is an operating budget designed to maintain government for the coming year,” Vice Mayor Chad Thalman said. “It does not reflect capital projects or other additional spending that council may want to make a priority at a future date.”

The exact budget estimate for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, is $34,943,355. That total is about $6,000 less than the budget for the current fiscal year.

The city plans to spend about $1,291 for each of Wheeling’s approximate 27,066 residents in fiscal 2019-20. That per-capita spending is more than twice the $617.46 used for each person who lived in the city in 2000.

The budget accounts for no pay raises for city employees, but Thalman said those typically are discussed and added in July at the start of the new fiscal year.

“That will be the case again this year,” he said.

The budget also was designed to fund all personnel, Thalman said, so no city employees will lose their jobs because of it.

Wheeling typically approves a preliminary budget in late March to be sent to the state auditor’s office. Final city discussions on the budget then occur in June and July around the start of the new fiscal year.

“Once the current fiscal year ends on June 30 we will know if there is a surplus. Some refer to this surplus as a cash carryover,” Thalman said. “If there is a cash carryover, and early indications are there will be, council will discuss if the city can afford raises for employees and what additional spending, like paving, the city will invest money toward.”

Preparation of the budget was led by City Manager Robert Herron, who was placed on indefinite administrative leave without pay on Monday after he was arrested and charged with aggravated driving under the influence.

Per the budget, the business and occupation tax is expected to continue to be the city’s largest source of revenue.

The city anticipates bringing in about $9.9 million from B&O tax in the upcoming fiscal year, which is about a 1 percent increase from the current budget.

The second largest revenue source for Wheeling will be the municipal sales taxes, set to generate $3.6 million — the same figure in the current budget. Another main revenue source, property tax, is expected to generate about $3.53 million, a 3.6 percent increase over the current budget.

In addition, the city anticipates receiving $2.09 million from fire protection fees, $1.87 million from sanitation collection fees, $1.49 million from excess levy property taxes and $1.27 million from utility excise taxes.

For expenditures, fire and police protection continue to be Wheeling’s largest expenses, as the city intends to pay more than $10.6 million for the fire department in the new year, along with about $8.22 million for the police department.

Another major area of spending for the city is its Operations Department, with $4.51 million allocated for the next fiscal year.

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