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Pay raise issue is big in Jefferson Co. budget talks

February 25, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The Jefferson County Commission has started working on its 2005-06 budget, and one of the areas of focus this year could be pay raises for county employees.

The issue of increased salaries for government workers in the Eastern Panhandle, especially state government employees and teachers, has gained momentum in recent months.

Local officials say higher salaries are needed for state workers in the Panhandle to help them deal with higher costs of living there.

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Jefferson County officials must be wary of county employees being lured to higher paying jobs in neighboring counties such as Loudoun County, Va., said Jefferson County Commissioner Jane Tabb.

"That's particularly true of deputies and 911 dispatchers," Tabb said.

The commissioners initially were interested in increasing the lowest salaries, said Commissioner Greg Corliss.

County officials now think that the most fair way to deal with the situation might be to raise all salaries, Corliss said.

If all county government employees are given a $2,000 raise, that will lift the lowest salaries to at least $20,000, Corliss said.

Last year, the Jefferson County Commission passed a $14.3 million budget, a spending plan that anticipated $3.1 million in slot machine revenue from Charles Town Races & Slots.

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

Corliss said slot machine revenue probably will increase this year, although it is unclear by how much.

In addition to considering their own operations, the commissioners have started hearing budget requests from other agencies and groups in the area.

On Thursday, CASA of the Eastern Panhandle, which helps to arrange foster care for children, requested $2,500, Corliss said.

The Shepherdstown Day Care Center requested $50,000 to help fund a building program at the center which will cost about $400,000, Corliss said.

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