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Collins proposes raises

March 09, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Giving Berkeley County employees a 32-cents-per-hour raise doesn't sit too well with County Commissioner Ron Collins, who said that raise is too low.

During a work session dealing with the county's upcoming budget, Collins proposed that existing full-time employees be given a two-step raise equaling at least $2,000 a year.

No action was taken on Collins' proposal.

While campaigning last year, Collins said he talked to county employees, who are proud to work for the county even though they could make more money working elsewhere. The county's work force is good, but it's no secret that raises are wanted, according to a written proposal Collins submitted.

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Collins proposed that the minimum step raise for employees be increased to $1,000, and that employees receive a two-step raise in the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Around 80 employees work in jobs with a step raise that is now less than $1,000. For example, a level-one clerk has a step raise of $660 a year, which equals the 32 cents per hour that Collins opposes.

Collins also proposed paying part-time employees an additional $1 per hour.

Commission President Steve Teufel said he supports Collins' idea, which shouldn't cost more than $160,000 altogether. He pointed out that the county will have a rollover of an estimated $3.4 million from this year's budget into next year's budget.

The commissioners also discussed expanding the home confinement program, which keeps nonviolent offenders out of jail. For each person in jail, the county must pay $48.50 per day - which adds up to millions of dollars every year.

Although expanding the home confinement program might not cause a decrease in the county's jail bill, it could help keep it from increasing, Collins said.

He proposed another employee be hired to help the coordinator, Lt. Cheryl Henry-Keller, who works for the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department. Because those on home confinement must pay for the service, the program could be self-sufficient, Collins said.

Collins said he also supports Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely's request that she be given the funding to hire four more prosecutors and two more secretaries.

A follow-up work session to discuss the budget is planned for 2 p.m. Thursday.

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