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Raise package approved in Berkeley County

September 02, 2005|by CANDICE BOSLEY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A handful of county employees will receive a raise of $10,000 this year after the Berkeley County Commission voted Thursday to spend part of a more than $3 million budget surplus on county employees' salaries.

While most county employees will receive a $1,000 raise, certain department heads and managers will receive an $8,000 raise from the surplus.

Combined with an already-approved $2,000 raise, a handful of employees will receive a boost in salary totaling $10,000 this year - a figure County Commissioner Howard Strauss said is too high.

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Strauss said he favors salary increases, but wants them to be "fair and equitable" - a phrase he repeated several times Thursday morning.

Although Strauss voted against the proposal, it passed with a 2-1 vote. Commissioners Ron Collins and Steve Teufel voted for it.

Among Strauss' concerns were that paying for the increased salaries in future years could strain the county's budget.

Disagreeing, Collins said that altogether the salary increases for all employees will cost less than $500,000.

Retaining qualified employees is a costly but worthwhile expense, he said.

"These are the people that we are trying to hang onto," Collins said.

Funding also was awarded to several outside agencies, including $100,000 to the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library, $45,600 to be split among the county's Historical Society and Landmarks Commission, $20,000 to The Arts Centre, $20,000 to the Apollo Civic Theatre and $25,000 to the Martinsburg Roundhouse Center.

Another $90,000 will be given to the Berkeley County Ambulance Authority for a new ambulance, and $105,000 will be forwarded to the Fire Board. That money will be used to help Bedington Volunteer Fire Department buy a 100-foot ladder truck.

The county's rainy day fund will be injected with $300,000, while $96,336 has been set aside to fight lawsuits filed against the county. Several lawsuits addressing a variety of matters are pending or have been filed against the county, Collins said.

More than $1.6 million was set aside for capital improvements to county buildings, including the former Blue Ridge Outlet Center that is being transformed into county offices and a judicial center.

Raises of $8,000 were awarded to the chief deputy in the assessor's office, the assistant facilities manager, the director of emergency services, the director of central dispatch, the chief tax deputy, the fiduciary supervisor, the animal control chief and the director of finance and purchasing.

The starting salary for assistant prosecuting attorneys was increased to a minimum of $50,000, as was the salary for the county's facilities manager.

All deputies with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department will receive another $2,000 in salary.

Other raises included $2,500 to the chief bailiff, the assistant fiduciary supervisor, the supervisor of elections in the voter's registration office and the assistant chief tax deputy.

The chief deputy of the sheriff's law enforcement division was given a $5,000 raise.

Elected officials' salaries, including those of the county commissioners, were not increased.

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