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Jefferson plans to beef up planning staff

August 01, 2000

Jefferson plans to beef up planning staff



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The population growth that is expected to hit Jefferson County has forced county officials to restructure the Jefferson County Planning Commission office. The restructuring will include a new administrator position and possibly other support staff.

In this year's fiscal budget, the Jefferson County Commissioners increased the funding to the planning department from $170,181 to $538,665 to add staff, said County Administrator Leslie Smith.

The planning commission is the agency that oversees all building in the county and enforces the county's land-use regulations.

The quick-paced residential growth being observed in neighboring Loudoun County, Va., has caused school officials and other elected officials to step up their pace in planning for the population growth, which they believe will naturally spread to this area.

Loudoun County is considered to be one of the fastest-growing counties in the country, and officials there say they plan to build more than 20 schools to prepare for the expected growth in the next five years.

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Another measurement of the rate of growth is the size of the planning office in Loudoun County, said Jefferson County Commissioner Al Hooper.

The office employs about 150, compared to the four people who work in the local planning commission office, Hooper said.

"Ten years ago, I doubt they had more than a dozen (employees)," Hooper said.

The Jefferson County Commissioners are interviewing six candidates for the new administrator position, which would oversee a planning department, zoning department, engineering and possibly a building code and safety ordinance section, the commissioners said.

Paul Raco, who oversees the planning department, is one of six candidates for the job. County engineer John Laughland has also applied for the job, which will pay between $65,000 and $75,000, said Smith.

There are about 20 applicants for the administrator's job, said Commission President James G. Knode. The field has been narrowed to six, he added.

Although the commissioners decided to hire a new administrator for the department, much of the restructuring will be left up to that person after he or she is hired, the commissioners said.

Depending on how the department is restructured, a second engineer could be added and another planner could be hired. A vehicle could be purchased to aid support staff and other staffing, such as secretaries, could be added to the new employment mix, according to the commissioners and Smith.

Last year, the commissioners decided to combine the engineering and planning departments, and on April 1, Raco was named acting director of the combined department. Raco's salary was increased from $51,000 to $58,000 when he was named acting director, and on July 1 he received another 6 percent raise, bringing his salary to $61,480, Smith said.

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