The Parthenon

Mayor previews State of the City, announces budget

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When you see revenues are decreasing do you live within your means, or do you raise revenues to be able to keep operating at the levels you’ve been operating at? I made the decision that absolutely we would not raise any fees.

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Huntington Mayor Steve Williams previewed his State of the City address and the city’s budget Wednesday for Marshall University journalism students in Smith Hall.

According to Williams, the city is “strong, vibrant, at the beginning of a renaissance.”

Williams praised developmental programs, but he said the city projects about a 5 percent decrease in revenue. Though he would not specifically state where cuts will come from, he emphasized there will be reductions in operation but no layoffs.

“We were faced with a test of our philosophical values,” Williams said. “When you see revenues are decreasing do you live within your means, or do you raise revenues to be able to keep operating at the levels you’ve been operating at? I made the decision that absolutely we would not raise any fees.”

He cited recently completed construction projects on campus as one reason for the drop in revenue. As projects like the Chris Cline Athletic Complex and the Arthur Weisburg Engineering Complex finalize construction, Williams said nearly $2 million of revenue will not exist in 2015.

Decreased revenue, however, has not slowed progression of Williams’ renaissance.

The revenues are declining, and I’m making an adjustment. We’re living within our means… And I’m making blessed sure that we shore up some other revenues.”

— Mayor Steve Williams

“I’m forced to make sure that we have other operations,” Williams said.

Such alternatives include assessing and collecting fees and fines from those who owe the city and encouraging department heads to communicate with union leaders and administrators to find more efficient ways to provide certain services.

The budget for 2015 will be $43.3 million. Last year’s budget was $45.1 million.

Williams explained the change is not a decline in revenue, but a necessary alteration considering circumstances.

“We’re not cutting the budget,” Williams said. “The revenues are declining, and I’m making an adjustment. We’re living within our means… And I’m making blessed sure that we shore up some other revenues.”

Williams also described some of his major developmental programs contributing to what he called, the renaissance.

The demolished Northcott Court public housing complex along Hal Greer Boulevard will be converted into a commercial area. Huntington Police Department officials will continue to increase investigations in the West End as part of the River to Rail initiative, which aims to reduce drug, property and violent crime in the city. The 74-acre brownfield space of industrial properties in the middle of the city, referred to as the ACF property, will also be developed into a more attractive area. And citywide broadband Internet infrastructure will serve as what Williams calls a virtual ribbon, tying all four programs together.

Williams will deliver the State of the City address 3 p.m. Tuesday in City Council chambers at City Hall.

Codi Mohr can be contacted at [email protected]

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