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Salary request pays off for Berkeley Co. department heads

July 21, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A request by Berkeley County (W.Va.) Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely to give her chief deputy a pay increase resulted in salary hikes for two other leading county officials who are paid more.

In a compromise with Games-Neely, the Berkeley County Commission voted unanimously Thursday to give $2,000 raises to County Administrator Deborah Hammond and Engineer William "Bucky" Teach in addition to an increase for chief deputy Prosecutor Christopher C. Quasebarth. Games-Neely requested a $3,279 increase, which would have surpassed current salaries for Hammond and Teach.

"I feel that the county administrator should be the highest paid employee," Commissioner Ronald K. Collins told Games-Neely.

"This (request) is leap-frogging the county administrator."

As part of an agreement suggested by Commissioner Howard L. Strauss, Quasebarth will remain the third-highest-paid county employee with a $79,975 salary, behind Teach ($80,500) and Hammond ($83,000). Games-Neely's $96,600 salary, like other elected officials, is mandated by the West Virginia Legislature.

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The commission also granted Games-Neely's request to make the raises retroactive to July 1. Money for Quasebarth's raise will come from Games-Neely's department budget. Teach's raise is expected to be similarly funded. Hammond's increase will be taken from general revenue.

Though sympathetic to keeping Quasebarth's salary competitive with neighboring jurisdictions, Teufel sought assurances from Games-Neely that her top assistant prosecutor could be able fill in for her if she went to the beach and "Jaws gets ya."

Games-Neely said Quasebarth could make the office function, but readily acknowledged he did not have the constitutional authority to act on matters such as submission of a budget for the prosecuting attorney's office.

The pay increase for Quasebarth inches him closer to the $88,320 maximum in grade 17 of the county's classification schedule, County Human Resources Director Alan Davis said.

"There will be some positions that inherently top out," Davis later noted.

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