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County employees to get pay raises thanks to surplus

August 26, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - It was a day of riches at the Berkeley County Commission meeting Thursday.

The three commissioners sat down to determine what to do with a $3 million surplus discovered in last year's budget.

"This is the best thing that has happened to Berkeley County since electricity," said commission member Ronald K. Collins.

Commission member Howard Strauss wanted to put the money in a fund and use it to reduce tax bills for county residents next year.

Strauss said he thinks the money should go back to taxpayers given the high tax bills they have been facing recently.

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Collins and Commission President Steve Teufel had other ideas.

The commissioners approved on two separate 2-1 votes two different spending packages that will give county employees raises, fund outside agencies and put money away for projects like the new county office complex being built on Stephen Street.

The surplus was discovered recently when county officials realized a "big bulk of money" was remaining from last year's budget, Teufel said.

Collins presented his proposal first, saying he wanted to set aside $813,000 for pay raises for all employees.

Teufel said the raises are important to help retain county employees.

Teufel and Collins voted for the pay-raise package and Strauss voted against it.

Teufel presented the other spending package, which sets aside $408,000 to various outside agencies such as the Berkeley County Fire Board.

The $105,000 given to the fire board will help the Bedington Volunteer Fire Department purchase a 100-foot ladder truck which is needed to protect a growing number of large buildings in the county.

The federal government pitched in $675,000 for the $750,000 firetruck and the fire board is required to pay 10 percent of the cost, officials said.

Teufel's plan also set aside $20,000 for the Boarman Arts Center, $20,000 for the Apollo Theatre and $25,000 for the Martinsburg Roundhouse Center.

Teufel said he wanted to give money to those three groups because they have witnessed increased operating costs.

Another $90,000 went to the Berkeley County Ambulance Authority for a new ambulance, according to Teufel's plan.

The rest of Teufel's plan included putting $300,000 in the county's rainy day fund and placing $1.5 million in a capital improvement account for work on buildings such as the new county office complex.

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