Cumberland Times-News

April 24, 2013

Director to present his budget plan

DAVID CRARY, RODRIQUE NGOWI
Associated Press

— CUMBERLAND — A preliminary budget presentation scheduled for today’s county commission meeting should give a picture of where the county stands financially.

The presentation should provide insight into how much in funds various departments and outside agencies will receive.

The county’s finance director, Jason Bennett, will make the presentation during the county commission meeting today at 5 p.m. at county offices on Kelly Road.

County revenues have increased slightly in the past year and most of that 1.5 percent increase came from property and income tax revenues.

Almost all of the $308,955 property tax increase can be attributed to the $295,000 payment in lieu of taxes agreement between the county and the owners of the Rocky Gap Lodge and Golf Resort.

Income tax revenues have increased by $714,600, according to officials.

Refinancing the county’s debt also helped with the budget, Bennett said. The projected county fiscal year 2014 budget is projected to be $82.6 million, up from $81.3 million in fiscal year 2013, Bennett has said.

“Revenues are pretty solid, I feel comfortable with the revenues,” Bennett has said.

The county does face increased health insurance and pension costs. The pension costs are determined by the state. Commissioners are considering a cost of living increase for about 400 county employees.

Also on the agenda is the award of the Barton Farm Master Plan Development proposal.

Getting homes and businesses sprouting on the largest remaining tract of development-friendly land in the county is the goal of Allegany County officials. That land is what was to be the Cumberland Chase Planned Development on 1,100 acres near Rawlings.

Plans for the initial development tanked after a series of financial troubles for developers.

Any subsequent plans to bring a new developer into the picture have remained stalled because of the inability of the bank that owns the property and potential developers to get things moving.

Summit Community Bank of Moorefield, W.Va., owns the property.

The firm designing the plan has to meet several criteria.

“The awarded firm will provide future land-use designations with suggested zoning changes, prepare an estimate of the associated infrastructure costs, develop a strategy for marketing the development as an attractive and viable place for residential living and a commercial business opportunity and guide potential partnership(s) and financing strategies,” according to the proposal request.

Some infrastructure is already present on the property, but may need to be modified and expanded.

Roads to enter and leave the property remain an issue.

The cost of the master plan won’t be clear until proposals have been submitted.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.