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Snow melts contingency, lottery funds

By Staff | Mar 5, 2010

Expressing resigned acceptance, officials with Shepherdstown’s Finance Committee reported budget revisions incurred by increased snow removal costs, decreased parking revenue and a decrease in earned interest will make a big dent in Shepherdstown’s pocketbook, almost completly depleting unallocated video lottery funds and contingency money from the general fund for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

Budget revisions, once recommended by the Finance Committe, must be approved by the Town Council.

Mayor Jim Auxer let out an audible sigh during this Wednesday’s regular meeting of the Finance Committee as municipal accounting clerk Pat Dowell detailed the reallocations from the video lottery and contingency funds. “We are at the end there,” remarked Auxer during the meeting, “We don’t have a nickel left in contingency.”

The snow removal budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year was only $10,000 at the beginning of the winter. A large winter storm this past December drained that account by $6,500. By the time February’s massive dose of winter weather was at our doorstep, the snow removal budget had only $3,500 in its coffers. Following those record breaking successive snowstorms, the Corporation of Shepherdstown paid over $26,000 in contracting and payroll expenses to clear the municipal streets of massive snowbanks, leaving the municipal snow removal fund deep in the red.

Shepherdstown has filed with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reimburse funds incurred by the heavy snowstorms of December and February. On Tuesday, 15 southern West Virginia counties were declared eligible for federal funds to cover the cost of digging out from the December snowstorm.

Also reflected in the budget revision was a decrease in parking ticket revenue.

Shepherdstown Police Chief Tim Johnson said at the meeting that efforts to replace some non-metered 90-minute free parking zones with coin operated parking meters has resulted in a decrease in parking ticket revenue.

He reported that patrolling the non-metered public parking spaces was labor intensive and inefficient. He also reported that tickets issued to vehicles parked in the non-metered public parking spaces were more likely to be contested in court, driving up administrative costs. Chief Johnson said that while money from parking tickets was down, the switch to parking meters in some areas has resulted in a slight increase in parking meter revenue.

In all, the budget revision will use $20,000 from the unallocated video lottery fund and $8,000 from the general contingency fund, leaving them both empty.