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Wheeling’s Finances Remain on Solid Footing

The financial outlook for the city of Wheeling continues to be rock solid as pages of the new calendar year begin to turn and figures in the city coffers remain in the black more than halfway through the current fiscal year.

Members of the Finance Committee of Wheeling City Council met this week for a brief virtual meeting to review the month-end fiscal report for January. Typically, Finance Committee meetings are held monthly just prior to the second council meeting of the month, but the February committee meeting had been postponed until Tuesday of this week as city leaders look ahead to upcoming budget workshop sessions for the 2021-22 fiscal year.

Officials noted that expenditures remain in check, and despite economic impacts that have affected certain revenue line items, the city’s general fund budget has remained balanced. Additionally, the city has continued to receive federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act funds on a monthly basis through municipal relief distributions via the state of West Virginia.

The city has been able to receive CARES Act reimbursements each month last year since the beginning of the pandemic. This funding has provided the city with a financial safety net, and for several months these funds have been redirected into the city’s Project Fund and Municipal Budget Stabilization Fund.

“We’re really in a nice position financially at this point in the fiscal year,” City Manager Robert Herron said. “Any CARES Act money that has been received in the past four months has gone into the Project Fund.”

The fund balance in the city’s general fund is a representation of all the transfers that have occurred in the Municipal Budget Stabilization Fund, according to Herron. Currently, the city’s Municipal Budget Stabilization Fund remains as it was last month at $4,937,000.

Herron said the city’s general fund cash position at the end of this January was at $2,608,000. This compares to totals at the same time last year of $2,800,000, at the same time in 2019 of $2,600,00 and at the same time in 2018 of $2,300,000.

“So we’re right in line with what would be a normal course for this time of year, particularly in light of the fact that we’ve had some COVID issues and continue to have COVID from a revenue perspective,” Herron said. “But at this point we are on pretty solid footing this far into the fiscal year.”

Revenue wise, the city manager told council members that figures in the January financial report are skewed because of the CARES Act money that has been received. Expenditures are also skewed, he said, but looking at expenditures from the individual departments in the city, most are at or below the projected threshold for this point in the fiscal year for spending.

“So from that perspective, we’re also doing really well,” Herron said, noting that at the end of the fiscal year on June 30, the city’s general fund typically ends up at 96 to 97 percent of the original budget. “We’re kind of on track for that right now from an expenditure perspective.”

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