BLUEFIELD — The city of Bluefield has made budget adjustments to prepare for the loss of revenue from the sale of for-profit Bluefield Regional Medical Center to non-profit Princeton Community Hospital.
That sale was finalized Oct. 1, and the tax revenue from BRMC ended.
“We should receive the final payment by the end of the month,” said Kelly Davis, city treasurer, of the last quarterly payment of the more than $650,000 annual tax revenue from the hospital.
Since PCH is non-profit, the city cannot collect the tax revenue.
During Tuesday’s board meeting, City Manager Dane Rideout said the city “took a huge hit to our budget.”
“We all were involved in a very in-depth revision based on that loss of revenue,” he told the board.
Those changes, which had to be quickly enacted after the city learned of the sale in late June, included cutting back on personnel and services in the parks and recreation department, leasing the Herb Sims Center to Bluefield College, consolidating duties of personnel, reducing the amount of money for home demolitions and reducing money for capital expenses.
Some employees were asked to retire early as well.
Rideout said Tuesday the revenue loss also impacted the city’s strategic goals as projects that may have been in the works have had to be put on hold for now.
“Our world changed dramatically both positively and negatively in about three months,” Rideout said of the March announcement of Intuit moving to Bluefield and eventually bringing up to 500 jobs and then the hospital sale and loss of revenue.
“We are not going to do everything (that was planned),” he said. “We will do things as we can afford to them. We tightened our belts.”
Rideout said with all the budget revisions the city should be able to handle the loss.
“I continue to harp on department heads (about saving money),” he said. “We feel pretty confident with our budget revisions.”
In other business from Tuesday’s meeting, the board:
• Heard from Rideout that leaf pickup is starting and residents should visit the MyBluefield app to request a pickup. Rideout also reminded residents that it is for leaves only, no rocks or limbs, which can damage the blades of the machinery.
• Also heard from Rideout that the two-year inventory of the AEP street lamps in the city is complete and that will impact the financial side of the electric bill since it’s been about eight years since the last agreement with AEP was signed.
“We want to make sure we are paying what we are supposed to be paying,” he said of the number of street lights in use. “We identified some street lights that need to be installed and some that need to be taken out. We will enter into a new agreement.”
• Saw a video presentation by Jim Spencer, the city’s director of economic and community development, of the promotion of the Exit 1 area on the city’s website.
Spencer said the focus on the “opportunity zone” that includes Exit 1, a national designation that allows private investment of unrealized capital gains with tax incentives.
“Many will see it who don’t know much about Bluefield,” he said.”So we give them the history.”
The video also points out the advantages of moving to the area.
Exit 1 is finally being developed by the city, with plans including 12 to 15 “shovel ready” pads for businesses on John Nash Boulevard at the exit. A hotel is one of the businesses being pursued.
“We are going to aggressively market the city as we push Exit 1,” he said.
• Learned from Art Riley, president of the Downtown Merchants Association, that this year’s Christmas parade is set for Dec. 14 at 1 p.m.
“The theme this year is the “Grinch,” he said. “We are really looking forward to it.”
Riley said one of its purposes is for residents to come out and enjoy the parade, adding that it will follow its usual route.
More information will soon be available.
• Learned from Marie Blackwell, the city’s ambassador who was representing the Community Foundation of the Virginias, that the foundation donated a total of almost $10,200 to the city’s fire department, police department and parks and recreation for various needs.
Blackwell made check presentations to Police Chief Dennis Dillow, Fire Chief Rick Cary and Charles Ridlehuber, parks and rec director.
— Contact Charles Boothe at email@example.com