by James Fisher
CLARKSBURG -- After a few minutes of discussion about the city's composting facility, Council members voted 6-1 to accept the city's proposed fiscal year 2001-2002 budget.
For the second year in a row, Vice Mayor Kathryn Folio objected to the budget because of the inclusion of funding for the composting facility.
"Last year, the city administration promised to actively find grants and drum up additional business for the facility. This wasn't done. Many council members last year said they would give it one more year and that year has passed," Folio said in her objection to the budget.
The proposed budget included $197,806 for the composting facility, an amount that Folio believes is unreasonable.
"In an economic time that many major corporations are laying off people, the city needs to be cutting excessive services," she said.
Folio also cited the proposed $50,000 grant from the Harrison County Solid Waste Authority -- which already has been cut to $32,000 -- and the uncertainty about whether the city will get that money.
Councilman Jim Hunt, however, pointed out that the composting facility is used extensively by city residents and city workers are out every day picking up tree limbs and other yard waste. Hunt cited the fact that Public Works Supervisor Anthony "Boo" Bellotte is well-known and respected throughout the state as a composting expert.
With a new governor and head of the state Division of Environmental Protection now in place, City Manager Tom Vidovich said he is confident that existing laws requiring cities to have such a facility will be enforced.
"If these laws start being enforced as they are written, we will be ahead of the curve of other cities," he said.
Vidovich also noted that the city has saved nearly $100,000 in the facilities budget by transferring three positions to the public works department.
"I think this administration is declaring that if we can't get relief and we can't get help from the state, at this time next year we will recommend closing the facility," he said.
In other business:
* Council members passed the second reading of an ordinance authorizing no more than $3 million in water revenue bonds to finance the new Second Street water tank project for the Clarksburg Water Board.
* Council passed the second and final reading of an ordinance raising police fines from $25 to $40.
* Council approved an ordinance setting the city's priorities as relating to the Harrison County Transportation Study completed by the state Division of Highways. Council's stated priorities are the United Hospital Center Route 50 access road, Route 19 south, Joyce Street to Meadowbrook, Joyce Street to Nutter Fort, East View to Wal-Mart, Route 19 to Gore and Route 50 west.
Regional writer James Fisher can be reached at 626-1446 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.