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Finance Committee Approves Budget Revision Funding

May 18, 2010
By HEATHER ZIEGLER Associate City Editor

This past winter is still haunting city hall.

During Monday's regular Wheeling City Council Finance Committee meeting, City Manager Robert Herron pointed out the need for a budget revision of $145,000 to pay additional costs associated with overtime, supplies, vehicle parts, utilities and maintenance all attributed to the harsh winter weather. Herron said even with the added costs, the city is in a positive financial position.

"We are 10 months into the fiscal year, and revenues are very strong," he said. "With a normal May and June, we will hit our budget."

The current operating budget is projected at $28.1 million compared to the previous fiscal year budget totaling $28.5 million. While revenue is expected to be down from last year, Herron said he and council prepared the budget taking that into consideration.

However, revenues in the 2010-11 fiscal year could be in an even better position when the city realizes the tax revenue that is expected to be generated from the $50 million Wheeling Hospital construction project currently under way. Herron said construction tax revenues are not figured into the budget until they are actually received.

Among the budget items that resulted in the $145,000 increase are:

Herron said the intermodal center is expected to show a shortfall of $90,192 with $75,000 already budgeted to cover the costs.

Councilman James Tiu asked when Herron expects to fill the B&O auditor's position the city has created. Herron said the city has received numerous applications but expects the job to be filled before July 1. The B&O auditor will perform random audits of B&O accounts for the city.

City Finance Director Mike Klug said the city of Charleston has four auditors and a supervisor in what he termed "a very successful" program for that city. Klug plans to travel to Charleston to learn more about how the auditors perform their duties and will model Wheeling's program after that operation.

Mayor Andy McKenzie suggested the city draw up a letter explaining the B&O auditing process to all businesses in the city.

"We should make them aware they could be audited and that no one on council will be directing audits on any business," McKenzie said.

He also asked what happens when a business is found to be in arrears of its B&O tax payments.

Klug said when a business fails to pay, he works with the business owner to set up a payment plan. If there are multiple failures to pay, the city can pursue legal action and/or pull a business owner's license to do business in the city, according to Herron.

The committee unanimously adopted the budget revisions, which will go to the full council for final approval.

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