MORGANTOWN — Interim City Manager Emily Muzzarelli said the city of Morgantown has received just over $6.9 million in CARES Act reimbursements thus far and expects an additional $1 million per month through the end of the year.
During Tuesday’s committee of the whole session, Muzzarelli asked council to consider allowing some of those funds to be injected into the budget in order to reverse certain cuts to staffing, promotions and cost of living raises.
“This is not bringing us back to where we were pre-COVID, but putting a little more money back into the budget to allow a little more flexibility for spending for departments,” Muzzarelli said. “I have asked department heads to think about where they would need the money most.”
So far, the majority of CARES reimbursements been stashed in the city’s contingency and financial stabilization funds.
Muzzarelli explained that the city’s contingency fund is now maxed out at $3.5 million, or 10% of the city’s general operating budget.
Further, she said the financial stabilization fund was about $1 million prior to COVID-19 and now stands somewhere in the $4 million- $6 million range.
She said she expects the budget revision brought before council next month to be “modest,” explaining that administration prefers to keep most of that money on hand.
“We don’t know how long COVID is going to continue impacting us,” she said, adding “It’s going to take a while for us to recover and we know that.”
The city passed a $39.7 million 2021 operating budget in March. Less than a month later, council adjusted that budget down by more than $3.1 million as COVID-19 began shutting down business in the city.
The CARES Act is a $2.2 trillion federal economic stimulus bill signed into law in March in response to the financial fallout of COVID-19.
In other city news, council will take up a new ward and boundary map when it convenes in October.
A map representing months worth of work from the Morgantown Ward and Boundary Commission and GIS Analyst Marvin Davis was presented on Tuesday.
The map represents a number of changes to ward boundaries in an attempt to better balance wards primarily based on number of registered voters, and secondarily based on ward population.
The new map would equalize registered voters in the wards significantly, bringing all the wards to within 3.6% of the ideal, or even distribution of registered voters.
Under the current map, 6th Ward is -14.1% off the ideal while 3rd Ward is +20%, 1st Ward is -10.8% and 4th Ward is+10.2%.
A map illustrating the changes is available on the city’s website, morgantownwv.gov under “quick links.”
Lastly, council will consider adding a $20 fee for parking tickets that remain outstanding for more than a year.
It was explained that the fee is needed to cover administrative costs, including the use of collection agencies.