Fire fee change approved

The Inter-Mountain photo by Tim MacVean Randolph County Commission members Mark Scott, left, and Chris See discuss changes to the Randolph County fire fee regarding commercial property billing during their meeting Thursday.

ELKINS — The Randolph County Commission unanimously approved a change to the Randolph County fire fee regarding commercial property billing.

Commissioner Mark Scott said commissioners gathered recently with their legal counsel, attorney Frank Bush, as well as the assessor’s office to review some concerns.

“We had a meeting to discuss some questions that had come up,” Scott said during Thursday’s Randolph County Commission meeting. “As a result from that conversation and looking at things, what we’ve decided to do is cap the charges that each business pays at $500, regardless of how many buildings they have and regardless of where those buildings are located.”

Scott stressed this ruling would only apply this year, and he explained the commission is looking to base the charge on the square footage, eventually.

“What we are going to look at in the future is possibly lowering the price we charge by square foot, and think it would be more equitable if we go that route,” he said. “This year alone, we are going to do a $500 cap per company.”

Commissioner Chris See provided those present for the meeting with an example from this year to explain why this decision was made.

“For example, Armstrong (Flooring) was paying $500, and you had Myles Lumber that had three or four buildings and their total would have been around $1,200,” See said.

“It’s not equitable because (Armstrong Flooring) does a whole lot more business than Myles Lumber does,” Scott added.

Additionally, Scott said this year delinquency fees — which would be imposed after 45 days of non-payment of bill — would be waved. But he emphasized this was also just for this year.

“Only for this year, we are going to waive the delinquency fees because we had several hundred appeals and there are several other tweaks we want to do,” Scott said. “So, this year we have put a moratorium on the delinquency fees, but I want to stress again that’s only a one-year situation. Beyond this, anyone who is beyond 45 days will be charged delinquencies and will be charged accordingly. But for this year, we thought the best thing to do was to waive that until we got through all the bumps in the road that we’ve experienced and figured we would.”

Scott added no deadline has been set for commercial or personal property owners to make an appeal, but he asked that they be made as soon as possible.

In other business:

• Commissioners unanimously agreed to accept a bid in the amount of $34,665 for aerial photography of Randolph County from Blue Mountain Inc., of Burton.

Randolph County Assessor Phyllis Yokum said her office would contribute $5,000 to the project and commissioners indicated that Randolph County Office of Emergency Management Director Cindy Hart said $15,000 would be provided from the mapping department.

Blue Mountain also provided this service in 2014, the last time it was completed.

A second bid was received in the amount of $49,500 from Tuck Mapping Solutions Inc., of Big Stone Gap, Virginia.

• Commissioners heard a budget presentation from Karen Carper, executive director of Elkins Main Street, for fiscal year 2018-2019.

• Commissioners unanimously approved a funding request in the amount of $2,000, to be taken from the courthouse contractual budget line, for the 33rd annual “Safe Graduation” from Angie Goff, president of Elkins Junior Women’s Club.

• Commissioners unanimously approved the adoption of the Randolph County Equal Employment Opportunity Plan, which is required for the county to received a federal Victims of Crime Act grant.

• Commissioners unanimously approved for Lombardi Development Co., of Follansbee, to begin construction on the Emerson-Phares Building, which will house the new county 911 center.