By: Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
After a heated and conflicting debate between Parsons City Council members and entities requesting money allocation from the William Mahan Harman Memorial Fund was approved for the upcoming fiscal year. Council members presented their input for the upcoming allotment of the Harman Fund. Each member had different approaches to where the money should be used to the benefit of the citizens of Parsons.
In a letter from Citizens Bank of WV the market value of the trust fund is $22,164,274.61 of which the City of Parsons will receive five percent. The total City of Parsons will receive is $1,108,213.73 to be divided among many projects for the city. Distribution of the fund is to be made by the Parsons City Council in accordance with guidelines established by Harman’s will and the Tucker County Foundation. The fund is for the purpose of providing perpetual funding for the following entities of the City of Parsons:
- Parsons City Cemetery
- Mill Race Park and River City Park
- Five Rivers Public Library
- Citizens of Parsons
Among those present to request funding was Chief Kevin White of the Parsons Volunteer Fire Department. In his letter to the City of Parsons Mayor and Council, White said: “In 2014, the Parsons Volunteer Fire Department asked for your assistance in establishing a truck/equipment fund for PVFD through the William Harman Fund. The City of Parsons Mayor and Council agreed on an annual contribution of $10,000 placed into an account for this fund. As of his year we have used these funds to help purchase and obtain equipment valued at $734,802.74.”
White went on to say: “So, for your $50,000 investment to-date you have received $678,802.74 return in advanced fire protection in our coverage area. This does not include the savings received from a lower ISO rating for the city and its residents or the care of those in need for which we cannot put a price.”
White continued his letter by asking the members of Council to allocate any extra money available to the PVFD for items such as a $500,000 new truck, $10,000 for heavy rescue struts, and new boots and helmets for $38,000. No extra money was allocated beyond the $10,000 already provided by the Council. White thanked the Mayor and Council for their continued support.
President of Five Rivers Public Library Board, Dennis Filler, presented to the Mayor and Council a budget request of $132,500. In this request Filler highlighted the uses this budget would cover. Such items as benefits, medical insurance, and basic library services for $116,000; materials for $5,000; technical equipment for $5,900 to keep the library state of the art, have e-readers, hotspots, new always changing hardware; digitalizing The Parsons Advocate to preserve local history for $3,000; and programming for the community such as Summer Reading, Toddler Time, Movie Time, etc. for $3,000. The Mayor and Council approved $80,000 to be allocated to the library. When Major Judy asked Filler if he was happy Filler responded by saying: “Am I happy? No. Will we work with what we have? Yes. Will we make the necessary cuts? Yes.”
The Parsons City Cemetery Committee put in a funding request for $69,266 and received $62,000 in allocation of funds. The Parsons Park and Recreation Commission requested funding for the next fiscal year in the amount of $331,423 and received allocation for $330,000. The monies received will be used towards the maintenance of River City Park, Mill Race Park, and the Wellness 24 Fitness Center.
The Benefits of the Citizens of Parsons Committee requested a funding amount of $719,800 and received $636,213.73. This committee budgeted for items such as $30,000 for the completion of the “Pocket Park” project. The total project cost is $49,329; however, there is an already secured $19,329 in funding for the project with $8,500 of Harman monies awarded in 2021 still available. The project will be completed this summer and will include benches, table and chairs, and painted mural representing what Parsons has to offer. Other items include $70,000 for the completion of the Pulp Mill Pond project, $33,000 for a lean-to at the City’s maintenance facility; $85,000 for the Parsons Police Department; $50,000 for street paving and $5,000 for sidewalks; and $53,613.73 to the City of Parsons Rainy Day Fund.
These items just name a few of the allocations approved by the Mayor and City Council. All members of the Council did not agree with the approved budget. One member that disagreed was Amy Wagner who stood up after the final voting and stated: “I just want to thank you for yet again not listening to my input or anything I had to say,” considering the Harman Fund Budget and before walking out of the room very unhappy she said, “I don’t know why I waste my time.” Mayor Judy called for a recess to finish the meeting after everyone had a chance to cool off, but Wagner did not return for the remainder of the meeting.
The next City Council meeting will take place April 5, 2022, at 6 p.m. at the Charles W. “Bill” Rosenau Municipal Building. If you would like to place an item on the agenda, feel free to contact the Parsons Business Office at 304- 478-2311.