Keyser administrator: 'Trying to get along with less people'

Liz Beavers
Tribune Managing Editor
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KEYSER - With an estimated $90,000 less to work with in the 2021-2022 budget, the City of Keyser is looking at not filling some positions they expect to be vacated by upcoming retirements.

“We’re trying to get along with less people,” city administrator Jeff Broadwater explained as he presented the projected $1.5 million budget  to the Keyser City Council this week.

“There is $1,496.092 in the general fund and an additional $20,000 in coal severance,” he said, explaining that those two line items are the portions of the projected budget that must be reported to the state for approval by the end of this month.

Broadwater said crafting the city’s budget was especially difficult this year due to the affects the pandemic have had on the city’s funds, and whatever affects may linger.

“The crazy ‘unknown’ is the COVID factor,” he said. “Our revenue streams are all over the place.”

In order to help put together the 2022 budget, Broadwater said he went back over the city’s books for the past three years to look at trends in revenue and spending.

“Based on those three-year trends and what I’m seeing year-to-date, this is the best I could come up with,” he told the council, cautioning them that the numbers would undoubtedly change as the “unknowns” become “knowns.”

“This is not a commitment to spend the funds; it’s an intent to spend the funds,” he said. “I know that there’s going to be budget amendments, there’s going to be revisions, there’s going to be a lot of ‘knowns’ that are ‘unknowns’ right now. This is the starting point.”

The budget presentation came on the heels of a 5-0 vote by the council Wednesday to sign over the Keyser Police Department dispatch duties to the Mineral County 911 Center - a decision which eliminated three jobs from the city’s payroll.

Mayor Damon Tillman said the city could no longer afford to operate its own dispatch, and the money would be used to bolster other employees’ pay in an attempt to retain those employees.

Broadwater said one reason the city was able to get through the current budget was because “half-way through the year we were short people.”

Broadwater also said, although it is not required, he plans to do a separate budget for the water and sewer departments, and work on a revision of the city’s pay scales.