Council Members Ask About Capital Improvements

Updated 19 weeks ago by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter
Council Members Ask About Capital Improvements

 When Huntington City Council passed the "flat" budget which contained a 3% employee pay increase. the Williams administration had departments present "critical" needs to council members. The needs range from deteriorating facilities like the city garage, fire stations, stormwater solutions, flooding challenges, sink holes, and other infrastructure deterioration that impedes the exceptional city label.

Having passed the flat budget and listened to Mayor Williams call to address these additional needs, Huntington's council briefly discussed the hard decision process during its Thursday work session.

"We need public input," stated council woman Joyce Clark during the Good and Welfare portion of the Thursday work session of Huntington City Council. Ms. Clark and others were responding to the unfinished business from the budget hearings i.e. capitol improvements.

Clark's statement followed at large council member Gary Bunn reminding the body that the "panels on the fire station falling off" which were shown during the March bus tour of city infrastructure. Council chairman Mark Bates asked the hard question Thursday --- what are we going to do about the deterioration? 

One process mentioned at the budget hearings was to begin prioritizing projects and hold public hearings. However as Bates stressed, "the money has to come from somewhere." He added, "an increase or whatever it takes."

During the hearings, Finance Director Deron Runyon had provided council with the amount of revenue that could be gained by increasing fees. Another proposal was to hold hearings and determine if the public would support an excess levy.

No one at the work session ventured into specifics. The gist simply is to start a process. However, cost factors for upgrades range from the $22 million shown on the trip around the city which Bunn called "the tip of the iceberg." Adding those upgrades from the Huntington Sanitary Board, CDBG, and other "brick and mortar" needs, he estimated $100 million at the work session.

Bunn suggested that the Comprehensive Plan 2025 be used as the basis for hard decisions.

Rick Simmons agreed with others like Rebecca Thacker and Pete Gillette that in Simmons words, "we need to be the voice of the people."

Bates advised that he will "work with the administration" for determination of a first step in the process.

 

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