County shrinks budget

Commission gives raises but overall cuts total $300,000

BUCKHANNON — Despite making cuts to nearly every county department in its 2017-2018 budget, the Upshur County Commission was able to give county employees an across-the-board raise for the upcoming fiscal year, the county commission president announced Thursday.
Terry Cutright said during the budgeting process, the commission sliced almost every department’s budget, including its own, which enabled it to increase employees’ salaries.
“I don’t think they (the cuts) will be enough that they would hurt anybody,” Cutright said. “We’re giving 3 percent raises across the board to county employees, with a floor of $1,040.”
Essentially, that means that any county employee making $16.75 an hour and over will receive a 3 percent raise, while any employee drawing in less than $16.75 per hour will get a raise of 50 cents an hour, Upshur County administrator Carrie Wallace explained.
During Thursday’s meeting, the commission unanimously approved the 2017-2018 fiscal year budget, which is balanced at $8,212,479, meaning revenues and expenditures match, both equaling that amount. In comparison, this year’s budget is slimmer than the 2016-2017 fiscal year budget, which was balanced at $8,499,205.
The commission is required to submit two budgets to the W.Va. state auditor’s office by March 28 — the county’s general fund budget and the coal severance tax fund budget. Like the general fund budget, the coal severance tax budget is down in 2017-2018, from $195,858 for the 2016-2017 fiscal year to $158,000 for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
Wallace said the most significant cuts were made to the courthouse budget — from $1,028,931 in 2016-2017 to $813,642 in 2017-2018 — and the “other buildings” budget, which is $100,126 in the 2017-2018 budget but was $142,500 in the 2016-2017 budget. One department that did receive a slight bump in its budget was the sheriff’s law enforcement budget, up $33,422 from $889,607 in the 2016-2017 budget to $923,029 in the 2017-2018 budget, Cutright said.
Despite the cuts, the commission president said he felt optimistic about the budget Wallace, assistant county administrator Tabatha Perry and county clerk Carol Smith were able to cobble together.
“I feel great, I really do, especially with what we had to work with,” Cutright said. “We’re still down in revenues, so we did what we had to do. But with elected officials staying within their budgets, it made it possible to do it (give across-the-board raises). I’d like to thank Tabatha Perry, Carrie Wallace and Carol Smith as well as commissioner Brady and commissioner Nolte for putting in the work it takes to pass the budget.”
Commissioner Sam Nolte made a motion to pass the budget, which was seconded by commissioner Troy “Buddy” Brady and passed unanimously.
Nolte also congratulated county elected officials on their responsible spending.
“The elected officials have done a good job the last couple years of keeping their budgets in line, which made the raises possible,” Nolte said.
Brady was likewise pleased with the budget.
“I really feel good about it,” he said. “I like working with the other two commissioners. We don’t always agree on everything, but we work together to get it done. We were definitely trying to take care of the lower (paid) employees to get them up. Budgets of all departments were cut to make the raises possible, which the employees definitely deserved.”
Wallace said she had expected the upcoming year’s budget to be lower than the previous year.
“We were expecting a decrease and that’s what we got,” the county administrator said. “It’s very satisfying for the commission to be able to give the employees a raise.”
In other news, the commission:
p Approved a request from Cheyenne Walters, program director for the Upshur County Community Corrections program, and Cpl. Rodney Rolenson, home confinement supervisor, to hire two part-time case aides and advertise for the positions. Each part-time aide will work 19.5 hours per week at a rate of $9.50 per hour. Applications are due by the close of business March 31.
p Received correspondence from Virgil D. Miller, Community Corrections case aide, announcing his resignation, effective April 15.
p Approved and signed the fiscal year 2017 Victim of Crime Act Victim Assistance Grant Application and standard conditions and assurances, requesting the amount of $34,662 for victim advocate services.
p Reviewed and approved the revised Buckhannon-Upshur Parks and Recreation Advisory Board by-laws.
p Approved the rental contract for use of the Buckhannon-Upshur Recreational Park for the 2017 season.
p Approved a request for bids for an assessor’s vehicle. Sealed proposals must be received by the assessor no later than 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19. All proposals will be publicly opened and read aloud by the assessor at 9:15 a.m. on Thursday, April 20.
p Received correspondence from Sandra Rogers, W.Va. Department of Environmental Protection Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan Manager, regarding the established guidelines for how many collection events managed by the REAP Pollution Prevention and Open Dump Program that each county may hold within a given annual year based on population of the county. There is one event allowed for Upshur County, and a date, time and place for the collection event will be determined in the future.

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