Wheeling City Leaders Look at How to Keep Budget in the Black

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 A review of the Wheeling city budget has city officials thinking about how to keep their finances in the black. It's a result of several factors including increased operations costs and increased pension costs.    

City Manager Bob Herron said in this particular case, there will be recommendations to significantly reduce spending now and also in the future.

The recommendations are in an effort to make sure the city doesn't over-spend, using money they don't have. Herron said the city is usually pretty good about spending within their means.

He said 75 to 80 percent of the city's money goes to paying employee wages and benefits, but now they're looking to reduce the size of their workforce.

"We aren't going to be laying anyone off, by any stretch of the imagination there, but when positions become vacant, we certainly look at whether that position needs to be filled, if we can consolidate it with other positions," Herron said.

Employees who currently work for the city said it's difficult to get by with reduced staffing. They hope the new budget will afford them money to fill the positions left stagnant.

"The ten vacancies that we currently have, it's been difficult to deal with. I get emails daily in reference to quality of life issues in the City of Wheeling, crime issues in the City of Wheeling, ten vacancies makes it very, very difficult," Chief of Police, Shawn Schwertfeger said.

The city manager will give his recommendations to City Council in the next few weeks. "We've done a three month review of the entire organization and I'll be making those recommendations to council on June 30th as part of our budget process. In July the finance committee looks at the first revisions to the budget, so it's not unusual that we do that," Herron said.

He adds the process of keeping the budget on track is an ongoing task and moving forward, the city will evaluate the entire organization and how they can continue to provide efficient services to residents in Wheeling.

Herron said the city has been fortunate because of the steady increase in sales tax revenue for the past seven months, but he said a B&O tax revenue reduction will also play into maintaining a balanced budget for the city.


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