6:00: Morning News

Morgantown council approves $3.1 million budget cut

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Morgantown City Council voted Tuesday to cut more than $3.1 million from the next fiscal year budget because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The budget revision notes 25% decreases in the wine and liquor, hotel occupancy, and video lottery and gaming taxes. Revenue from the municipal service fee and the business and occupation tax is expected to experience a 10% decline, totaling $1.8 million.

The city has cut the 2.5% cost of living pay adjustment, paid interns, full-time summer employment for the city’s street department, overtime and investment in police and public works equipment.

City Manager Paul Brake warned council members they will also have to approve a 23% increase in the fire fee.

“If this fee is increased, the city finance department will make available hardship applications for any resident or business that needs additional time to pay,” he said. “Finance will not charge penalties or interest and will offer a payment plan as needed.”

Brake also noted an internal effort to have employees work fewer hours while keeping their benefits. Some employees are considering declining salary increases for vacation time, and individuals near retirement are being asked to consider the change.

“I should emphasize this is the first wave,” Brake said. “There will probably be a second or third iteration.”

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