West Point council talks budget

Published 10:17 pm Friday, November 10, 2017

WEST POINT — Members of the West Point City Council met at 5:30 p.m. Thursday to discuss two principal issues: adopting an annual budget for 2018 and revising a plan for downtown parking.

Each year, City Manager Ed Moon, along with department directors and staff, prepare a budget. The budget process for the coming year began on August 3 and will conclude on December 11.

“Building the budget over these months includes input from the city council, distribution of a draft budget to the community and two public hearings for public input,” Moon said. “The final decision on the budget is up the council.”

The first of those two public hearings took place Thursday.

Over the past ten years or so, West Point has been in an advantageous position compared to many other cities. The city’s budget has grown by more than 70 percent over this period and is now in the $20 million a year range.

Of this figure, just under $11.8 million is for utilities, with the Electrical Department getting the lion’s share of close to $6.5 million. Water is a little over $1.8 million, Sewer around $1.7 million and natural gas $1.4 million.

The city’s proposed general fund comes to a total of around $7.15 million. Big-ticket items here are the police department, around $1.8 million, and the fire department, some $1.6 million.

“The proposed utility budgets have an overall reduction of 1.2 percent,” Moon said. “Natural gas has the largest reduction due to trending mild winter weather.”

One of the larger expenses will be in the water budget. The city is considering entering a water tank maintenance program with the American Tank Company. This would cost around $165,000 but would give the city the assurance of getting maximum value for its water storage tanks.

The total budget comes to $20,367,802. It can be found on the city web site at www.cityofwestpoint.com.

“The 2018 budget is a continuation of the high level of service that is delivered to the city each day,” Moon said. “City utilities continue to provide citizens quality services at a low cost. City facilities are maintained at a high level for citizen enjoyment.”

The parking issue being considered would extend two-hour parking to other parts of the downtown area. This is already being enforced in the heart of downtown.

The council is now considering extending this outward to include the portion of West 8th Street that’s between West 2nd and West 4th Avenues and the portion of West 3rd Avenue that’s between West 7th and West 8th streets.