Weston Finalizes Annual Budget

The City of Weston approved a $1,868,600 budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, with an increase of more than $300,000.
The approval was completed in two separate sessions. The City of Weston officials met on Monday, to discuss the budget, but did not approve the budget.
However, on Tuesday, the budget was finalized and approved by City Council.
The budget approval had to be mailed to the State Auditor’s office by March 28.
The meeting on Tuesday was an emergency meeting called by Mayor Julia Spelsberg to finalize the budget.
“In the discussion about the new Weston city budget, I failed to ask for a motion to approve the budget,” Spelsberg said. “ We had an emergency meeting today (Tuesday, March 28) to remedy the issue because the budget has to be at Charleston immediately.
“However, I think it was
exciting to realize that we can have a little extra money now to do proactive projects which our residents want, like tearing down bad houses in Weston,” Spelsberg continued.
“So it was my fault that we didn’t approve the budget (until Tuesday), but on the positive side, our finance and administrative
department are doing a bang-up job of collecting taxes and fees which are due to us. That is something that our residents should be very happy about.  We know that our residents want to be responsible partners in our city, and now they know that they need to pay their fees
and taxes.”
Finance Manager Dodie Arbogast met with department heads, including Fire Chief Kenneth James, Chief of Police Joshua Thomas, Interim Public Works Director Jacob Culver and Building Inspector Bryan Reed, to discuss their upcoming budgets for their departments.
Department heads said that they were pleased with their budgets with the amount of money that the city had to disperse.
“We were only a couple thousand dollars apart in my department in our estimates,” said James.
Revenue attained to make up the budget includes the following: $380,470 Property taxes, $9,000 Gas and Oil Severance, $344,530 Excise Tax on utilities, $550,000 B&O Tax, $27,000 Wine and Liquor Tax, $1,200 Animal Control Tax, $42,000 fines, fees and court costs, $7,000 parking violations, $15,000 licenses, $7,000 building permits, $1,500 miscellaneous permits, $38,000 franchise fees, $42,000 interstate registration plan fees, $4,000 cemetery revenue, $240,000 municipal service fees, $17,000 parking meter revenue, $6,400 off street parking, $100,000 federal government grants (not included the Safer Grant for the fire department), $20,000 gaming income, $1,500 sale of fixed assets, $3,000 accident reports and $12,000 video lottery.
Arbogast said the incoming items and outgoing expenditures were based upon an average of the previous two years finances. Primarily, she said that she relied on comparative income statements.
“I have looked at historical data and determined what the expected revenue will be,” said Arbogast.
“Your revenues and expenses have to match,” continued Arbogast.
The following is an itemized list of expenditures budgeted: $6,800 Mayor’s Office, $10,200 City Council, $140,000 treasure’s office, $132,000 City Clerk’s office, $4,000 police judge’s office, $5,000 city attorney, $4,000 city auditor, $4,000 Regional Development Authority, $2,100 building inspection, $136,000 City Hall, $25,000 parking, $535,000 police department, $356,500 fire department, $36,000 communication center/central dispatch, $6,000 fire hydrants, $400,000 streets and highways, $60,000 street lights, $3,000 signs and signals, $8,000 general government, $8,000 public safety and $8,000 street/transportation.
Arbogast plans to continue looking into bringing in additional revenues such as past due B&O taxes and fees, to further bring in as much revenue as possible.
Arbogast is currently sending out invoices quarterly for B&O taxes, but wants to change the ordinance for businesses/rental properties that have an annual liability of $100 or less, so that the invoices can be sent in annually instead.
This will save time and expenses to the city and help businesses/rental properties to comply more easily according to Arbogast. This decision will be determined by a later council meeting.
Arbogast says that the city has collected around $40,000 in past due municipal fees, but was loosing around $35,000-$40,000 in past due fees annually.
One large budget cut that Arbogast has made this year is the amount budgeted for an attorney. Around $40,000, was budgeted for an attorney the previous year, however Arbogast said she felt they shouldn’t spend that much in legal fees this coming year.
Spelsberg asked the council to also consider the possibility of using $15,000, to assist with the removal of dilapidated buildings.
In other news, Interim Public Works Director Jacob Culver presented to the Council a presentation that he has spoken to the water company about an advance for two years in the amount of $40,000, which will allow the city to purchase new
Culver said the they are the only municipality that does road repair for the water company, after they do work in roadways.
If this advance is granted the city will not bill the water company for patch work done, with the stipulation of if the water job requires a complete resurfacing for the street, then the water company would pay the price of blacktop and the city would absorb the labor cost.
Culver stated that the city on average has billed the water company around $30,000 annually for about five or six years.
The agreement would allow the city to purchase a skid steerer and milling machine. Culver plans to talk to the water company more about terms and monetary information.
The next regularly scheduled meeting is slated for Monday, April 3, at 6 p.m., at the Weston Fire Department.

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