Danielle Stewart for Mayor of Beckley
Because the Coal Funds are relatively small compared to the General Funds, I will focus the analysis on just the General Fund.
We received over 35% of our funds from the B&O tax, 14% from the 1% Sales Tax, and 10% from Property Taxes. We also received 22% of our budget from something called the Unassigned Fund Balance. The B&O Tax, Unassigned Fund Balance, Sales Tax, and Property Taxes account for 81% of income.
But what about this Unassigned Fund Balance? According to the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, “the unassigned fund balance are amounts that are available for any purpose; these amounts are reported only in the general fund. They can come from numerous sources and the funds.” Funds for this account come from all the other sources which is why there are no differences in the Original General Fund and the Revised General Fund except in the Unassigned Fund Balance. Here is an example: the Wine and Liquor Tax was projected to bring in $180,000; anything over $180,000 is placed in the Unassigned Fund Balance.
What this means to us is that the city brought in $4,766,034 more than it had planned on at the beginning of the year. This money is/was available to use in anyway the city saw fit – an almost $5 million slush fund for FY 2020 alone.
Before we look at Expenses, I need to point out a few things about the city budget. First, all income except the Unassigned Fund Balance is assigned to a specific expense which is why any money that comes in extra on those lines must go to the Unassigned Fund Balance. Second, expenses must equal income. Cities are not allowed to maintain a balance to use later. Lastly, the Original General Fund Income funds the Original General Fund Expenses meaning that the Original General Fund Expenses are the funds that are required to operate that department. Anything extra in the Revised General Fund Expense means that department can buy extra things that are not absolutely needed to perform their function.
Now let’s take a look at the expenses:
Without ever looking at the numbers, we know that our Emergency Services and Public Works will (or should) account for a large portion of expenses (combined 56%). I honestly cannot tell you why the Recorder’s office requires over $2 million but I will assume it does, in fact, need that. We can safely assume that the Original General Fund Expenses are what each department needs to operate. That assumption means that the $4,766,034 provides a nice bonus to the city but is not required to support city operations and is therefore available for the city to allocate as needed in the community.
“Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.” ― Joe Biden
This is how the city allocated this extra money, showing you exactly what the city values:
Over $2 million for “contingencies” which means the city can spend that money however they see fit with no restrictions (other than city council approval for larger amounts). The rest went to departments to support additional operations and wants (not necessarily needs).
Looking closer at the budget, we can see areas that are NOT a priority for the city:
Community Development (Housing): $7,000 | Economic Development: $24,000 | Street Cleaning: $31,000 |
Street Construction: $465,000 | Streets and Transportation: $400,000
Engineering: $0 | Rehabilitation of Property: $0 | Planning & Zoning: $0 | Complaint Department: $0 | Sidewalks: $0 | Public Transit: $0
Youth Programs: $0 | Playgrounds: $0 | Beautification Programs: $0 | Social Services: $0
Apparently, Beckley does not have an issue with housing, jobs, public transit, sidewalks, drug addiction, and trash. What are your thoughts about that?
Let’s check out the report the City of Beckley sent to HUD in August 2019 detailing city needs and plans to address those needs. The report I will reference is the HUD Community Development Block Grant City of Beckley FY 2019-2023 Five Year Consolidated Plan and FY 2019 Annual Action Plan.
If you take the time to read through this plan you will find that the city has thoroughly detailed how bad the economic and housing situations are in Beckley. You will also find the city plan to address our economic and housing issues using CDBG funds in 2019 (found on page 154):
Paved roads, community policing, and parks are how Beckley will address our economic and housing issues. If you read further, you find this on page 155:
“Many of the obstacles to addressing under served needs are outside of the City’s control. The largest obstacle is the lack of local, state, and federal resources available to the City of Beckley to adequately address these needs. This reduction in funds, combined with increasing numbers of individuals in need of housing, social service, homelessness, or infrastructure support, unfortunately means that the City of Beckley is at a disadvantage in addressing under served needs in the community.”
Beckley says there is not enough money to address our economic and housing issues and there is nothing the city can do about it, so Beckley isn’t going to try. Except we do have the money. We had $4.7 million for FY 2020. Worse, we have HAD an average of $4.5 million per year since 2013 to address our issues:
Take a hard look at those numbers. Since FY 2013 Beckley had over $36 million that it could have used to address economic and housing issues. Beckley does not have a money problem. Beckley has a prioritization problem. Beckley has a leadership problem.
Beckley needs a leader that will prioritize the needs of the residents of Beckley above all else. Beckley needs a leader that can work within a budget to improve our city. Beckley needs a leader with the skills and experience to take a hard look at everything that has been done in the past and find a way to fund our future. I am that leader.
“A budget is more than just a series of numbers on a page; it is an embodiment of our values.” – Barak Obama
Analysis of the FY 2020 City Budget
"It's just the way we've done business. It's the way I was taught," he said. "We're not doing anything different.”
- Former Mayor Emmett Pugh when he announced he was stepping down over charges of violating the Ethics Act.
Click HERE for the article
Hold on tight because this is a long paper. This position paper is different from the others I have done in the past. With this paper, I will examine and explain the City of Beckley Budget for Fiscal Year 2020 (July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020). The purpose of this paper is to show the residents of Beckley that there is enough money in the city budget to fund my proposals (and more).
I created the charts and analysis you will see but they are based on the budget submitted to the West Virginia State Auditors Office by the City of Beckley. The submission is in Adobe Acrobat format, so I transferred the data manually to a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. You can find the budget as submitted to the state HERE. Note: I removed every line item with a “$0” balance in my documents to make things easier to read.
Here is where the city received funds from in FY 2020. The Original General Fund was the estimated income the city provided at the beginning of the fiscal year. The Revised General Fund are the most up to date numbers. Same with the Original and Revised Coal Funds.