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Money for 3 deputies included in Jefferson Co. budget

March 24, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A $16.1 million budget which will add three deputies to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, allow county parks to be open year-round and pay for a new $1 million emergency radio system was passed Thursday by the Jefferson County Commission.

The budget also gives a raise of at least $2,000 to all county employees.

County Commissioner Jane Tabb voted against the budget, citing a number of concerns about the spending plan.

Among Tabb's concerns is that the budget uses slot machine revenue to fund operations like the county extension agent office.

When the county began receiving slot machine revenue from Charles Town Races & Slots, the county commission believed that the money should be used only for capital expenditures, Tabb said.

The concern was that if slot machine money was used to support government offices, those offices could be strapped for money if slot machine revenue dried up, Tabb said.

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The budget estimates that the county will receive about $4 million in slot machine revenue in the coming fiscal year.

The commissioners have saved about $11.6 million in slot machine revenue.

The three deputies, which will allow the sheriff's department to go from 20 to 23 deputies, will help the department keep up with an increasing number of calls, said Jefferson County Sheriff Everett "Ed" Boober.

In funding the extra deputies, Boober said he believed the commissioners were receptive to citizen concerns about law enforcement issues.

A county resident last year complained to the commissioners about speeding in his community.

Scott Hoeksema, who lives in the Middleway, W.Va., area, complained about trucks speeding on main roads near his house and said there has not been enough law enforcement to control the problem.

The $16.1 million budget, which does not call for a tax increase, represents about a 12.5 percent increase over last year's budget, according to a press release from the commissioners.

About $7.1 million in the budget is dedicated to public safety such as ambulance service, fire and rescue service, homeland security and jail costs, the release said.

The budget increases the parks and recreation operational budget by 70 percent, which will allow county parks to be open year-round, the release said.

Some park facilities are locked during winter months, and the additional revenue would allow parks officials to increase staff to keep the facilities open and maintain them, Tabb said.

The $1 million being set aside for a new radio system addresses concerns with the current police and fire communications system. In some areas of the county, fire and police personnel are unable to communicate with the 911 center, Tabb said.

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