The City of Williamsburg’s share of the state’s gas tax for next fiscal year gives you some idea of the financial challenges local city and county governments are facing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This current fiscal year, which ends June 30, the City of Williamsburg received about $135,000 in municipal coop aid from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet for paving projects, sidewalks and so forth.
For next fiscal year, which starts July 1, Williamsburg is only projected to receive $95,000. The funding represents each municipality’s share of state gas tax revenue.
“Obviously, it is due to nobody is driving,” Mayor Roddy Harrison told the city council recently of the reduced road aid money.
He said this is just a conservative estimate and that funding could go back up as businesses reopen and more people start driving again.
When asked by Councilman Loren Connell about the status of writing the budget for next fiscal year, Harrison said the city is planning to work off of the old budget for the first quarter of the fiscal year and maybe amend the budget in July to reflect the new revenue picture.
“Right now, we can’t tell you what to expect coming up,” Harrison said noting he has been told that occupational tax revenue could be down anywhere from 20 – 40 percent. “It’s really scary. 40 percent is gut wrenching, but we don’t know … I guess we will just have to wait and see.”
City Clerk Teresa Black noted that the big question is whether the waterpark is going to open at all.
Harrison noted that this represents about a $2 million financial impact on the city.
He said the city is doing everything necessary to have a July 1 opening for the waterpark, but he concedes this probably won’t happen.
He added that it is a lot easier to shut it down at the last minute than it would be to try and start or restart it at the last minute in the event “something amazing happens,” which would enable the waterpark to open.
Harrison said a lot depends on when school starts back because much of the waterpark staff are students.
He said that if school starts back Aug. 1, then it probably wouldn’t be worth opening the waterpark for one month. However, if school doesn’t open back until after Labor Day, this might be another story.
Connell, who is director of instruction for the Williamsburg Independent School District, said the school has put together five different school reopening plans that range from a mid-July opening to an opening after Labor Day, but presently they have no idea which plan will be implemented.
The school district even has contingency plans for different groups to attend in-person classes on alternating days, he noted.
“We just don’t know how this is going to go. I don’t think we are going to go until July,” Harrison added.
Monday’s monthly Williamsburg City Council meeting was held virtually through a Zoom videoconference, with all six council members, the mayor, the city clerk, and the city attorney all online virtually along with two members of the media.
“This is history. It is pretty cool we can do this and stay in contact. It is one for the record books,” Harrison said at the start of Monday’s meeting.
The only other virtual attendees of the meeting were two canines, which verbally made their feelings known that they wished the meeting would hurry up and get over. The meeting lasted about one hour.