County budget includes raises for employees

ELKINS — The Randolph County Commission approved a county budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year Thursday, which includes money for employee raises — although the details will be determined by the county’s elected officials and department heads, not the commissioners.

“We determined as commissioners that we were going to be able to provide a pay raise for the county,” Commission President Mark Scott said during Thursday’s meeting. “So in this proposed budget, we propose giving each elected official and department head a, for lack of a better word, a block grant, so you all have money to use for a merit pay system, if you choose to do so. So each of you will be receiving a block grant that will allow you to increase the salaries of the people who work for you.”

The $9,668,266 budget approved Thursday is more than $500,000 below the $10,171,717 2018-19 fiscal year budget.

Scott noted that commissioners were determined to cut their own budget, just as they were asking elected officials and department heads to cut theirs.

“For the county commission budget, we cut spending by $38,086,” he said. “For the courthouse budget, which we have control over, we have budgeted cuts of $541,980. And from other buildings, we have budget cuts of $558,750. Also we worked closely with our 911 director, and as a result of that we were able to cut the 911 budget by about $875,000.”

“Most of the elected officials have either taken a cut to their budget, or very little has been approved by way of increase,” Scott said.

The prosecuting attorney’s budget decreased from $815,413 in 2018-19 to $803,624 in the new budget. The county clerk budget fell from $385,387 in the current budget to $381,791 in next year’s.

The circuit clerk’s budget increased slightly, from $339,336 in 2018-19 to $339,973 in the new budget. The assessor’s budget went up from $381,896 in the current budget to $386,547 in next year’s.

The sheriff-treasurer budget increased from $384,297 in 2018-19 to $390,949 in the new budget.

“Yesterday we met with the sheriff, and we learned that one of our deputies is going to be leaving for a year-long deployment,” Scott said. “So what we did is we budgeted for an additional six months of a second deputy in this budget … so that you will have the money that you need to have a second full-time deputy for half a year.”

Scott and Commissioners David Kesling and Chris See thanked the elected officials and department heads for working with them so closely on preparing the budget.

“This is our first attempt to decrease our spending and get our spending in line with our revenues,” Scott said.

Kesling said, “We started with the budgets that were presented to us, and where we’re at today, it’s about a $1.5 million reduction, about a 16 percent reduction. Did everybody get what they wanted? No. Did I get what I wanted? No. But it’s going to take more than one budget cycle to get the overspending that’s been done by prior commissions in line.”

The county’s coal severance tax is projected in the budget to decrease by more than half, from $143,359 in 2018-19 to $62,250 in the next fiscal year.

The next county commission meeting is set for 1:30 p.m. April 4 at the James Cain Courthouse Annex.

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