HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – Huntington Mayor Steve Williams has released the details of his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2024.
According to the mayor’s office, Williams’ proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2024 will come to a total of $70,269,644, which officials say is roughly $5 million more than the current fiscal year’s budget. Fiscal Year 2024 runs from July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024.
One of the key points is a historic allotment for the city’s police and fire departments. The mayor says the proposed budget for the Huntington Police Department is $15,586,938, and for the Huntington Fire Department, the proposed budget is $14,437,136. Both of these totals are the largest totals in a single fiscal year for either department.
According to the mayor’s office, if the budget for the HPD is approved, the department plans to purchase five new cruisers to continue their ongoing fleet maintenance, bringing the total number of cruisers purchased with general fund money since Fiscal Year 2014 to 43. Williams says this year, HPD will also be the highest-paid law enforcement agency in the Mountain State and will have the highest starting salary among West Virginia law enforcement agencies.
For the Huntington Fire Department, this budget, if approved, would allow for a new command vehicle, making the sixth consecutive year the HFD has been able to purchase a new fire apparatus or support vehicle. They also plan to use funds to separate the sleeping areas and restrooms in the fire stations to be more accommodating and inclusive for all firefighters.
Williams’ office says the work to finish the new Mayor Joseph L. Williams Jr. Fire station at 20th Street and 9th Avenue is on track and projected to be complete in June, and construction of a new Westmoreland Fire Station is slated to begin in July.
The budget for the Public Works Department includes $2.6 million to develop a 10-year paving cycle. $750,000 for street repairs; $100,000 for a sidewalk replacement program; $175,000 for a new dump truck. They are also using it to continue renovations at the National Guard Armory to combine all Public Works divisions and to fund train mechanics in the Motor Pool Division for specialized vehicles.
The proposed budget has also allotted funding for the following contributions to organizations in the city:
- $63,000 to the Cabell County Public Library
- $53,000 to Unlimited Future, Inc.
- $200,000 to the Huntington-Cabell-Wayne Animal Control Shelter
- $300,000 to the Huntington Municipal Development Authority for economic development
- $250,000 for Facing Hunger Food Bank – the third $250K donation to the Facing Hunger Food Bank. City officials say the mayor’s goal is to contribute $1 million to the organization by end of his term.
- $500,000 to the Keith Albee for renovations as part of a $1.5 million contribution to the historic theater that is being spread out over time.
Another area of the proposed budget allots funding to Housing, Neighborhood, Beautification and Cultural programs in the city. This includes:
- $1.25 million budgeted for demolition programs funding to demolish at least 100 unsafe or dilapidated structures.
- $100,000 for Project Shine housing rehabilitation program.
- $50,000 for planning studies for Guyandotte and Gallaher Village. City officials say they are seeing growth in both areas and want to spend $25,000 on each for studies that will solicit input and feedback from residents on what they want to see in their neighborhoods.
- $100,000 to continue Fairfield Community Development Corporation.
- $20,000 to Highlawn Alliance
- $20,000 to RenewAll, Inc. in the West End
- $30,000 for hiring four Americorps VISTA workers for the West End, Highlawn and Fairfield
- $20,000 for Huntington Heroes and Black History Month banner programs
- $30,000 for continued improvements to Foundry Theater at the Jean Carlo Stephenson Auditorium at City Hall
According to city officials, the mayor is also proposing to centralize the budget operating system and purchasing process under the finance department. Williams says this system is currently not centralized, and each division is responsible for budget tracking and data entry.
City officials say centralizing the budget operating system and purchasing process would allow for uniformity and would create two new positions to do the work. This will allow more time for current employees to complete their other tasks, saving the time investment equal to the work of 13 full time positions. The mayor’s office says this would be critical to HPD and would save a time investment that would be equal to the work of two officers.
The mayor is also proposing $800,000 for the local match to the third phase of the Hal Greer Boulevard Corridor project, which would be the portion of Washington Boulevard to Kinetic Park Phase 1 began this morning between 3rd Avenue and Washington Boulevard.
City officials also say there are 67 active projects city agencies are involved in or leading which equals a total of $514 million through a variety of funding sources.