Newell: Parkersburg’s mid-year revenue on track

PARKERSBURG – Mid-year revenue numbers for the city of Parkersburg are on track, but indicate little-to-no new funding for the coming year.

Mayor Bob Newell said mid-year numbers released this month show most revenue streams at or above projections.

The largest revenue stream, Business and Occupation, or B&O Tax, is slightly below projections. Of the $10 million in B&O taxes included in the 2012-13 budget, slightly more than $4.8 million, about 48.3 percent, has been collected.

Newell said those taxes were due Jan. 31, and often there is a delay in when the taxes are filed versus when the check is received.

“Those are collected quarterly,” he said. “There is always a bit of a delay, and sometimes they are just late in paying, so we will continue to see that trickle in and the number go up.”

Most other revenue streams are above projections. The city has collected about 52.5 percent of the more than $2.2 million budgeted for user fee revenue. Likewise about 52 percent of the sanitation fee, 52.3 percent of the fire fee and 54 percent of the police fee have been collected.

Of the nearly $3.3 million budgeted for property tax, nearly $1.7 million or 57 percent has been collected.

“It tells us the revenues are remaining flat as we predicted and as the state predicted,” Newell said. “Things are certainly better in our community than they were a few years ago when this recession began, but we’re not seeing any new revenues coming in.”

State officials have warned of impending budget cuts upwards of 7 percent in some areas. Newell said those cuts could trickle down to the city.

“Where we would see it from the state is in the form of grants” for different projects, he said. “That money just won’t be available in some cases.”

An example of that is the Prevention Resource Officers (PRO) at both Parkersburg High and Parkersburg South High schools.

“Those used to be grant-funded positions,” he said. “We are now paying for both of those positions. The Wood County Board of Education has graciously paid for the benefits.”

But Newell said the city also has seen most of its expenses remain flat in the past year. Almost everything became more expensive during the beginning of the recession, such as salt and asphalt, but those prices lowered slightly and have now remained relatively stable.

“We’ll never see those costs go down again, but for the most part they haven’t gone up,” he said.

The current budget for fiscal year 2012-13 is about $25.6 million. Newell said the proposed 2013-14 budget is about $26.2 million.

“Those numbers can be a bit misleading,” he said. “Any kind of grants or disbursements have to be counted as revenue in your accounting. It inflates the overall number when in general your overall revenue is staying the same.”

Newell said any grants or disbursements received are earmarked for specific projects and do not add to the district’s general fund.

Overall, the mid-year revenue and expense numbers show the city is on track.

“It’s about where we thought it would be,” he said.

Parkersburg City Council will convene as the Committee of the Whole at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, starting a multi-meeting review process for the mayor’s proposed 2013-14 budget.