Council approves budget, approves details of financing plan for facility improvements

Mar. 2—MORGANTOWN — Morgantown City Council breezed through a first reading of the city's general fund ($39, 486, 629) and coal severance fund ($60, 100) budgets for the upcoming 2023 fiscal year during its regular Tuesday meeting.

City Finance Director Kevin Tennant explained that supplemental budgets, including those for the city's capital escrow fund and entities like the Morgantown Municipal Airport, will be included in the form of a resolution that will come before council when the budget returns for second reading later this month.

While council didn't engage in any budget discussions Tuesday, it does have a budget workshop scheduled for 7 p.m. on March 8 in council chambers.

That meeting will follow the 5:30 meeting of the Morgantown Utility Board, during which a discussion of the utility's trail project in White Park is anticipated.

Also on Tuesday, council approved the fine print on a bond issuance that will finance needed improvements to city hall, the public safety building, the public works garage and the Norwood fire station.

Rob Steptoe, representing placement agent Crews & Associates, said requests for proposals were sent to 21 banks across the state.

Of the five responses, Community Bank's offer of a fixed 2.61 % interest rate over a 15-year repayment term was selected.

"We put this RFP out in a really challenging rate environment, " Steptoe said, explaining that inflation, and attempts by the Federal Reserve to slow inflation, have pushed interest rates up.

The city will deed the buildings in question to the Morgantown Building Commission in exchange for the issuance of up to $7 million in bonds to fund the improvements. The lease payments paid by the city to the commission will be used to pay down the bonds and interest.

According to the city's internal estimates, the total cost of the work is expected to be around $5.6 million.

In other news, council — Approved a change to city code renaming the Woodburn School Redevelopment Commission. In light of the facility's new name, Woodburn Community Complex, the body will be known as Woodburn Commission.

— Approved $58, 750 for sound, lighting and technical support from Morgantown-based Active Air Productions for the upcoming 2022 Ruby Summer Concert Series.

— Will hold a public input meeting on the city's comprehensive planning process at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Morgantown Event Center