CUMBERLAND — Cumberland’s mayor and city council approved the first reading of an ordinance to transfer $1.5 million of improvement bond dollars to their general fund to meet cash flow needs for the spring.
The transfer from the city’s 2008 General Obligation Public Improvements Bond Fund was approved, with two additional meetings set for public input, during the council’s regular meeting Tuesday.
“It allows us to avoid doing short-term borrowing,” said Jeff Rhodes, city administrator.
“In the past, we would have to do a short-term note and pay interest to the bank,” he added.
Rhodes described the ability to transfer funds on hand as a safety net. The city then pays the fund back as tax revenue is collected.
“We have done this a few times in the past once we passed enabling legislation,” said Rhodes.
The legislation requires the city to do transactions of this type through an ordinance so the public is made aware and given the opportunity to comment if desired.
During budget discussions Tuesday, prior to the council’s regular meeting, some of the projects that continue to keep the sewer fund in the red were disclosed.
The council wants to replace aging equipment at its Ridgeley, W.Va., pump station, which is expected to cost the city $85,745.
Other projects that have added to the sewer fund’s red ink, which is expected to reach $1 million for fiscal 2014, are the combined sewer overflow project at Evitts Creek and the installation of an enhanced nutrient removal system at the water filtration plant.
“The cost of wastewater treatment is rising and will continue to do so,” said Rhodes.
Officials have already made a recommendation to the mayor and city council to raise sewer rates for city customers for 2014.
A state grant of $198,000 was received by the city for installing the nutrient removal system. However, it will fall far short of turning the deficit around.
The council reported that it is receiving added income for highway maintenance and police protection.
The state is adding $500,000 in 2014 to the $230,000 it already gives the city in highway user revenues. The funds are a reimbursement for the highway maintenance the city performs.
The state is also forwarding $100,000 to the city to support law enforcement activities.
Greg Larry can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.