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Berkeley sheriff asks for four bailiffs

February 15, 2000|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

MARTINSBURG - Berkeley County Sheriff Ronald E. Jones plans to hire four deputies as full-time court bailiffs in the next fiscal year under a budget proposal he submitted to the County Commission Tuesday.

Jones said the arrival of a new Circuit Court judge in July will add to his department's court duty workload. "We're really sliding by with the law masters," who preside over child and custody cases, he said.

The new hires will bring the county into compliance with a state law that requires the sheriff or his deputies to act as bailiffs, or court officers, he said.

Berkeley County now has four civilian bailiffs, three full time and one part time. They cover the county's two magistrate courts, two circuit courts, and two full-time law masters.

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The Berkeley County Commission has been hearing budget proposals this month from county departments and community organizations. A budget for the fiscal year that runs from July 2000 to June 2001 must be ready by the end of March.

Jones and County Assessor Evelyn M. Fink were the only presenters on Tuesday. Both urged the commission to increase low-level secretary salaries above the current $13,200.

"Six dollars and thirty-five cents an hour is ludicrous to start someone when you can go to Sheetz and start at $7 an hour," Jones said in an interview after his presentation.

Fink said the county is promising a $14,750 salary to new secretaries who are being hired at a higher rank. But she feels there is no difference between the advertised secretary jobs and current positions except pay, and she said it's hurting morale in her office.

Commission members, worried about the costs, balked at the requests for across-the-board higher salaries.

"Once you make a change in one department, you'd have to do it for every department," said Commissioners President D. Wayne Dunham.

"There's no way you can reclassify everybody," said Commissioner Robert L. Burkhart.

Jones's total budget request for the next fiscal year is either $1.57 million or $1.59 million, depending on the raises his employees get. The proposals are about 11 to 13 percent higher than this year's $1.41 million budget.

There are 33 deputies in the department, according to Jones.

The four new deputies would be paid $24,622 each.

The salary for the civilian bailiffs is currently $19,000 for full time and $7,696 for part time.

Another proposed spending increase in the sheriff's budget is $151,000 for six new vehicles. Jones said he asks for new vehicles each year.

That cost is offset some by a reduction in payroll because some long-time employees in the sheriff's department are retiring, he said.

The assessor's budget would go up from $393,000 this year to $413,000 next year, or about 5 percent, according to Fink's proposal.

The county's share of funding for the department would rise from $205,000 to $222,000. The rest is covered by a state fund set aside for appraisal work, Fink said.

The commissioners said they are in a familiar position, forced to make some sizable cuts from requests. "We're already $500,000 over last year," said Burkhart.

Last week, County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely asked for an increase of about 17 percent over this year for her department, and the county Health Department requested an increase of 10 percent.

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