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Nitro to finance garbage truck with excess pension funds

NITRO, W.Va. -- Nitro City Council decided Tuesday to use excess funds from its police and fire pension plan to pay for a new garbage truck, thereby avoiding six years of loan payments and interest.

City Treasurer John Young said he recently discovered the city had paid into its pension plans five months in advance, and therefore does not need to make another payment until July 1, 2014.

As a result, the city has about $156,000 more than budgeted for the fiscal year.

The city has already ordered the garbage truck, and expects to receive it in 75 to 90 days, Young said. The truck will cost $126,543.

The city will still have about $30,000 left from the excess pension funds that it could decide to apply to outstanding loans for police vehicles and a previously purchased garbage truck, or apply to its pension fund. That money will be discussed at council's next meeting.

Young said the police pension fund is about 33 percent funded, and the fire pension fund is about 9.6 percent funded.

A fully funded pension would reflect a hypothetical situation where every employee could draw his or her respective retirement pensions at the same time. But because that situation is not plausible, most entities only partially fund their pension plans.

"We are a lot better than some cities," Young said. "We are making the minimum required deposit the state requires us to do."

Young said that the city is required to pay 107 percent into its pension plan each year over what it paid the year before. He said it is inevitable that the city will eventually be unable to fund its plan at that rate, but it could be decades before that occurs.

The city had already budgeted $1,700 monthly for the loan payment for the truck and Ward 3 Councilwoman Laurie Elkins said she wanted to see the city spend that money by putting it into a reserve fund for new vehicles. That proposal will also be discussed at the next council meeting.

In other business, council:

* Voted to request bids for landscaping projects for areas y between 21st and 40th streets, as well as for the area at the end of the new Nitro-St. Albans bridge.

The landscaping plan is part of the city's overall economic development plan, and Casebolt said the project is meant to help increase business interest in the city.

"The primary objective is to entice some businesses into that area where there are empty buildings," he said.

Originally, the council was not going include the area near the Nitro-St. Albans bridge in this landscaping project, but at-large Councilman Bill Javins said he wanted to see the city fund more projects on the southern, or "uptown" end of Nitro.

"Uptown, we get left out," he said.

Ward 4 Councilman Andy Shamblin concurred.

"I agree with Bill 110 percent," he said. "I think that the whole town needs to be represented equally."

Though the request for bids was approved by council, the project will not be certain until council knows how much the project will cost and what the city can afford.

* Heard from Nitro Development Authority Executive Director Rich Hively, who said the authority is exploring the purchase of signs to be placed at entrances to Nitro.

Hively said right now, the authority is looking at cost estimates for at least two signs that would feature life-size "doughboys," or World War I military members. The replicas would be meant to pay tribute to the city's history of being created as a result of that war.

The authority is looking at other sign possibilities as well, including smaller signs along roads that receive less traffic. A funding source hasn't yet been determined.

* Approved a renewal contract for City Attorney Jonnie Brown of the Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe PLLC law firm. Brown will get an increase of $500 monthly beginning in January 2014, bringing his compensation to $3,500 per month.

* Learned the city has 54 participants for its Christmas parade on Dec. 14 at 6 p.m.

Contact writer Matt Murphy at Matt.Murphy@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817. Follow him on Twitter @DMLocalGov and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ DailyMailLocalGov


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