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Commission OKs budget for Jefferson County, W.Va.

March 26, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The Jefferson County Commission passed a $14.3 million budget Thursday that sets aside $1.6 million for possible new recreational, police and court facilities and additional money for two additional deputies and an agriculture development officer.

The budget, which does not call for any tax increases, represents a 16 percent increase over the current budget which extends until June 30, the commissioners said.

The 2004-05 budget anticipates the county will receive $3.1 million in slot machine revenue from Charles Town Races & Slots in the coming year.

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The commissioners were budgeted to receive $2.6 million in slot machine revenue this year.

Local governments receive 2 percent of slot machine revenue from the local thoroughbred track.

Among the funding requests the commissioners received from the community was one for $2.2 million to build a new community center in the county.

Jefferson County Parks and Recreation Commission officials requested the money to build the center because they do not have an indoor facility for its programs.

Instead of awarding $2.2 million for the community center, the commissioners decided to set aside $1.6 million for a more comprehensive building program.

The money would go toward construction of facilities the commissioners say the county needs such as the new community center, a county court complex and a new facility that would house the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department and 911 center.

The facilities would cost about $18.5 million, Commission President Al Hooper said.

Hooper said he wants to set aside $1.5 million for the next five years to help fund the proposed building plan.

The commissioners received a request for $60,000 in "emergency funding" to help reopen the Boys and Girls Club of Jefferson County. The club also wanted the commissioners to give the organization $5,000 a month.

The club had to close Feb. 2 due to rising debt, operating losses and high fixed costs.

The commissioners decided not to fund the club.

Another request was for $350,000 to help build a new girls softball field adjacent to Jefferson High School and install new lights at the school's football field.

The commissioners decided not to award the money.

The budget for the 2004-05 fiscal year provides a modest salary increase for county employees and money for several new positions, including two deputies for the sheriff's department, an animal control officer, a public safety dispatcher and a agriculture development officer.

Officials have been considering creating the agriculture development position, hoping the person hired can find new ways to market goods produced by the county's agricultural industry.

To help Jefferson County stay green, "you have to do things to help keep the farmer staying down on the farm," Commission President Al Hooper said.

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