Fairmont must trim, revamp its 2021 budget

The Fairmont City Council has a lot on its plate when it comes to the city’s 2021 budget. Given a proposed 11.5 percent hike in the property tax levy — amid the uncertainty of a pandemic — the council has some work to do in prioritizing and putting off expenses. Businesses and individuals do not need the added tax burden at this moment in time, and 11.5 percent would be a major increase in any year.

We notice that the city wants to add a community development director, at a cost of $93,000. The work is currently split between the city administrator and economic development director. Perhaps it would be best for that arrangement to continue, given Fairmont’s size and the budget issues.

We believe the council also needs to weigh carefully a Public Works building project, which creates new debt service. There are health and safety concerns — and violations — in the current facility. The project could be delayed or reimagined to reduce costs.

The city also plans to add a community services officer to tackle animal control, code enforcement, nuisance complaints and to proactively help citizens understand code violations. We believe the council should approve this $98,500 addition, as the issues involved are long-lived and ongoing.

The city plans to pick up the costs of higher health insurance premiums for employees, while expecting those workers to back a one-year extension of current contracts. This may or may not fly, so the city should be prepared for additional costs in this area.


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