It's always a good feeling when you find some loose change in the couch, or maybe a lost $20 dollar bill in your pocket. Now, despite serious budget concerns, the city of Huntington has found some extra money.
We're used to hearing budget blues coming out of Huntington's City Hall, but now, a six-hundred thousand dollar surplus. And from city council members to members of the public, there are many suggestions on how to spend the cash.
Cindy Cannon and Christi Dennison barely believed us when we told them Huntington's out of the red and back in black with a budget surplus.
Much of the money comes from a property tax settlement with Woodlands Retirement Community. In all, the city is six-hundred thousand dollars ahead. Councilman Jim Ritter wants to spend half the money on street paving, which is enough to resurface about three miles.
One-hundred fifty thousand dollars would be spent on buying five new police cruisers, and the remaining 150 thousand dollars could be set aside for a rainy day fund. Resurfacing roads is a popular option, considering the last major paving project in the city was back in 2004.
For some time now, people have complained about the lack of paving projects in the city, and that's especially true on the south side where the roads are severely damaged. But interestingly enough, if you ask the residents what they want to see the money go to, paving is number two on the list.
“First thing I think about are policemen,” said Cannon. “Maybe more of them, and maybe pay them more."
Diana Porter agrees. She wants a safer city for her grandchildren.
“I want them to be safe, and I want the neighborhoods to be safe,” said Porter. “I don't want to have drive-by shootings and so forth."
Councilwoman Mary Neely also wants to hire more police, buy more cruisers, and pave more roads.
“There are just so many areas that we can use that money for,” said Neely. “There's never going to be enough money to do everything that we need to do."
Councilwoman Neely just wants council to take its time to find the best way to spend this money, but she does support buying a new computer system for the finance department to help collect late taxes and fees.
The new computer could actually end up saving money, because right now, the city pays so much fixing and servicing the outdated software.