Bridgeport City Council approves $12.6M budget

Tuesday, March 25, 2008
The Exponent Telegram
By Jeff Toquinto, Bridgeport News Editor

Bridgeport – Bridgeport City Council approved the 2008-2009 fiscal year budget with little fanfare Monday night. However, the budget’s approval means big news on the recreation front.

The city’s $12.6 million budget includes $1.2 million for a recreational complex to be located at the Charles Pointe development.

The proposed complex will include a wagon wheel style athletic field design featuring baseball and softball fields with the possibility of a soccer field.

At least four, and perhaps more, fields will be included with a concession stand/press box complex slated for the middle of the wagon wheel design. There will also be a parking site to handle those attending events at the facility, according to Mayor Jim Christie.

The complex will be situated on the same 40-acre site where a proposed elementary school for the Bridgeport area would be built. Developers of Charles Pointe – Genesis Partners – refer to the site as the “public area,” said Christie. The majority of that acreage, which is already situated near necessary infrastructure, would be available for the recreational complex.

Christie said earlier the best news about the recreational acreage is that is comes at no cost. That means the entire $1.2 million will be spent on developing the parks as opposed to acquiring land, demolishing property and installing needed infrastructure.

The approved budget also includes a 4 percent cost-of-living adjustment for the city employees, no increases in fees or taxes and money for two additional police officers. However the bulk of the budget’s impact items involve the spending of one-time business and occupation tax dollars, more than $2 million of which will come from construction of the new United Hospital Center.

Money is being set aside for the fire department substation on Jerry Dove Drive, dollars to acquire land to allow for the expansion of the city’s public library as well as additional money to be combined with escrowed money to purchase a combination ladder/pumper truck.

No one spoke during the pubic hearing accompanying the adoption of the fiscal year budget. Council unanimously approved the budget, which will now be sent to Charleston.

In other business Monday, Council:

- Heard from Christie that companies involved in a $40-billion defense contract that will include shops and jobs at the North Central West Virginia (Benedum) Airport are moving ahead despite a recent challenge of the contract. Sargent Fletcher and European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. (EADS) – subcontractors to Northrop Grumman for the 11-figure project – are confident the U.S. Air Force contract will still go Northrop’s way. Boeing has challenged the contract award based primarily on EADS’s European ties.

- Was told that a Harrison County Circuit Court judge ruled last week in favor of the city in regard to concerns of having a police officer serving on Bridgeport’s Policy Civil Service Commission. The city was concerned the officer would constitute a public official and thus potentially leave open a legal challenge for any hiring made by the commission. On Monday, City Manager Kim Haws said the state ordered the city not to hire anyone after the Fraternal Order of Police filed an injunction. The circuit judge on Monday told the FOP and the city to come up with a solution, aid Haws. Haws said both side agreed to appoint an interim member to the commission until all legal options are exhausted.

- Heard from Bridgeport Volunteer Fire Department President Rodney Strait on a memorandum of understanding between the volunteers and the city. The MOU would spell out issues regarding funding, including 5 percent of fire service fee revenues to help cover fund-raising losses incurred as the city installed the fee for the current fiscal year. The MOU, if approved, would cover the difference between funds raised and $50,000, which is the annual amount the department has raised in the past.