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Huntington Mayor unveils new budget

The Parthenon

Published: Monday, February 17, 2014

Updated: Monday, February 17, 2014 21:02

Mayor Steve Williams spoke to City Council Friday, Feb. 14 with his proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Williams spoke of his first year of being mayor as he recounted the past decisions of the year.

“Our revenues are steady. Our expenses are under control,” Williams said. “In short, we’ve been able to avoid management by fiscal crisis and have established a clear, concise vision to address an ambitious, yet prudent, direction for our city.”

Several of Mayor Williams developments in the past year had to do with making sure the divisions within Huntington were properly staffed and resources were distributed frugally to those who needed them most. The city of Huntington was able to pass a new comprehensive plan ‘Plan 2025’, which is the first of its kind since 1996. There were also plans of new senior housing complexes along with 50 single-family housing units in Fairfield West.

Mayor Williams attributed his 2013 fiscal success to the partnership between the administration and council. He believes that because his administration expects achievement, they often receive it.

“Our vision last year was to ensure that necessary resources would be placed in the hands of all our divisions,” Williams said. “In turn, we would expect a level of excellence and innovation that would make Huntington an example of how to conduct business.”

For 2014, Williams mentioned that Huntington must learn a new way to resolve old problems. He talked about how he wanted Huntington to focus on the question, “Mediocrity or excellence?”

In order to reach excellence, the Mayor wants to focus this years financial budget on things that have been ignored. He wants to give city employees a 3 percent raise across the board for bargaining units and administrative personnel.

“Imagine the condition of our streets, sewers, lights, and our buildings such as CIty Hall if there had been no appropriation for their upkeep for nearly seven years. Our employees, our single greatest resource, have not had a raise since 2008,” Williams said. “In many years, it was an easy decision to say we could not afford a pay raise. This is not one of those years.”

The biggest change in 2014 comes because of the chemical spill in Charleston. Williams took executive action and asked the City Council to help him place all city offices concerning water quality, regulation, or service under one agency. The Sanitary Board will be taking over both the Stormwater Division and the Floodwall Division.

“We are recommending that the Stormwater and Floowall divisions be transferred to the Sanitary Board. The Sanitary Board is organized and prepared to take on these entities,” Williams said. “Employees will be transferred to the Sanitary Board with all seniority and rights afforded to them under the provisions of their union contract.”

Mayor Williams closed with mentioning how there were still things that he wanted to address. Such as, the Huntington Police Department’s community policing model, two new fire stations, and infrastructure that is failing in Huntington. Williams said that they current budget can not cover these things, but that the city has created a budget within their income.

“We will continue to strive for excellence in all that we do. It is necessary for us to determine how we intend to address our long-term capital needs. Just as we have successfully established a paving program by having a dedicated revenue source, we need to determine how to establish a consistent capital improvement program. Our present revenue structure does not allow us to budget for these needs.”

Paulina Shepherd can be contacted at shepherd47@live.marshall.edu

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