City of Buckhannon Finance and Administrative Director Amberle Jenkins at Buckhannon City Council's Jan. 5 meeting. / Photo by Katie Kuba

City allocates funds to complete the majority of construction work on Colonial Arts Center

BUCKHANNON – The City of Buckhannon has earmarked over $550,000 to complete significant portions of two major ongoing infrastructure projects — the Colonial Arts Center and the Stockert Youth & Community Center’s multipurpose addition – as it moves toward the finish line on both projects.

At its most recent meeting on Jan. 5, 2023, Buckhannon City Council approved a budget revision for the 2022-2023 fiscal year – which runs from July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023 – in the amount of $639,223. Of that total, approximately $557,000 was allocated to complete construction work on the long-awaited Colonial Arts Center and to pay for engineering services for the Stockert Youth & Community Center’s new multipurpose addition.

Budget revisions occur periodically in city and council governments when unanticipated expenditures or revenues must be accounted for and balanced, as is required by West Virginia Code.

At the Jan. 5 meeting, City of Buckhannon Finance and Administrative Director Amberle Jenkins presented Resolution 2023-01, a General Fund Budget Revision for the current fiscal year. Jenkins said Buckhannon Public Works Director Jerry Arnold had hammered out how much funding was needed to complete the majority of the construction work on the Colonial Arts Center.

“[On the expenses side] with the theater building, we have a contractor and Jerry (Arnold), and the contractor have talked about what they think it’ll cost to finish the construction work up there, and he gave us a spreadsheet of several things that are needed, and we also bought a phone system for there, too,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins said Arnold and the contractor estimated it would take about $183,000 more than had originally been budgeted for the theater ($170,000) to complete the work, bringing the theater building line item up from $170,000 to $353,000.

“That should finish the construction work, but we haven’t seen out the RFQ (Request for Qualifications) for the seating work yet,” she said.

And while the Stockert Youth & Community Center has accumulated $135,000 more in after-school program revenue than was budgeted for in the 2023 fiscal year, Jenkins said she had to pull $388,223 more from the city’s sales tax fund than was originally anticipated to pay Potesta & Associates, Inc. for engineering services for the proposed SYCC multipurpose building.

“Council approved the design plans for the Stockert Youth Center building,” Jenkins said. “Now, that will be reimbursed back to General Fund once the financing is completed. So, you approved a resolution to have those [funds] reimbursed through the bond financing that we’ll do once that’s in place, but we have to expense the money out first because that work has to be done.”

Overall, city officials had originally estimated that $1.7 million in sales tax, which is kept in a separate account, would need to be allocated to the city’s general fund to balance the 2022-2023 fiscal year budget. However, in the Jan. 5 budget revision, council approved transferring an additional $388,000 in sales tax, bringing the amount contributed by sales tax to the general fund budget up to about $2 million or exactly $2,088,223.

“That’s to cover basically the engineering services from Potesta,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins said the city’s contingency fund still remains solid.

“I didn’t touch that,” she said. “Costs are going up and we don’t know what it’s going to be if we have to do additional paving or sidewalks.”

Mayor Robbie Skinner said he’d like to see the city maintain a healthy contingency fund.

“I can’t speak for the rest of council but I would prefer that we try to keep that as intact as possible in case anything comes up that we don’t foresee,” he said.

Councilman CJ Rylands noted that a $6,000-per-year line item budgeted to pay the former city architect, Bryson VanNostrand, had been eliminated from the expenses side of the budget revision.

“So, Amby, I see here where we’ve eliminated the city architect?” Rylands observed.

“You all didn’t appoint a city architect [at the start of the 2023 fiscal year, July 1, 2022] so I just pulled out the $6,000,” Jenkins replied.

Rylands said VanNostrand hadn’t received prior notice that he would be removed from the city’s payroll; however, Skinner said he had discussed the issue with VanNostrand.

“We might have handled this a little more diplomatically because this previous city architect was never told anything and just stopped receiving his [monthly payments] …” Rylands said.

“I sat down with him,” the mayor replied. “The current project (the Stockert Youth & Community Center addition) is being handled by the Mills Group through Potesta Engineering … which is the only real major project that is requiring architectural services in the city now.”

Councilman David McCauley made a motion to approve the budget revision, Resolution 2023-01, and councilman Jack Reger seconded it; the motion passed unanimously via a roll call vote.

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