Huntington City Hall Must Replace Boiler, Interactive Website Coming in Spring

Updated 6 years ago by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor
Huntington City Hall Must Replace Boiler, Interactive Website Coming in Spring

Nuggets of larger questions peppered the four-and-a-half hour budget hearing Saturday morning, March 1, at Huntington City Hall.

Cold weather battering the city and state, one kernel uttered sounded ominous but similarly a ‘no sweat’ circumstance.

The city has an unbudgeted  expense: “The boiler went down (last) week… [it’s a] $75,000 expense,” Brandi Jacobs-Jones, director of administration and finance told council. Stating that employees are wearing a “couple of extra layers,” Ms. Jacobs-Jones indicated the administration is “working with Honeywell” on the replacement.

She told those at the hearing that the boiler failure did not surprise anyone. In  prior tight budget choices, stabilization of external factors outside City Hall had been chosen ahead of the aging heating system.

Referring to another worst case scenario, Ms. Jacobs-Jones said, “We are too dependent on paper,” warning that a catastrophic event at the structure would “cause data to be lost.” Thus, “we need to go electronic.”

On the upside, the city will have a new interactive website by spring developed by Bulldog Creative.  

“It will be a library of resources for those living in the city and those wanting to live in the city,” she said.

Mayor Steve Williams clarified, "We are doing well, but we could do much better." He called the proposed budget "bare bones." The budget hearing will demonstrate the need for requested funding, but , in his words, provide "a glimpse behind the curtain" at needs by individual departments not placed in the budget.

The behind the scenes revelations are meant to emphasize that the city like commercial business depends . on growth. "The city grows revenue to do additional services that citizens expect." Pot hole complaints are up --- just like the rest of the nation that continues enduring a harsh winter. Williams stressed, "We're not hearing about arson or police department response (time). We (do have) hillside slides we have to address."

The mayor has not forgotten the "wi-fi" project that's part of his exceptional city goal. "National trends have frozen some of the discussion," he told council. Negotiations with the city's cable provider are "month to month" on a franchise renewal agreement. "There's just one provider and they own the infrastructure," Williams admitted. He alluded to "other options" that would not be prudent to discuss in public.

Council vice chairman Scott Caserta told the Mayor, "We are gaining attractiveness to people wanting to live here."

"You're hitting the ball squarely in the sweet part of the bat," Williams said, stressing that this council has decisions and options to "designate revenue" to make a project happen.

Discussing increasing current revenue, the mayor emphasized the city's stringent back fee collection policy. "If it's owed, we collect it," the Mayor said. "We have 2,000 liens on properties. If that property changes hands, we have our hands out."

City attorney, Scott McClure, explained that liens do not equal immediate money  but puts the city in line by its encumbrance on the property.

Councilman David Ball asked about seasonal workers, such as lawn care. "Honest lawn care workers lose business because people come in on weekends," he said.