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Berkeley Co. officials share 'riches' with county groups

July 28, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Berkeley County Commission on Thursday maintained its commitment to parks and recreation needs to expand, allocating $250,000 in funding not spent in the 2005-06 fiscal year, and reiterating their intent to make a matching appropriation next year.

Commissioners Ronald K. Collins and Howard L. Strauss also bowed to Commissioner Steven C. Teufel's request to earmark some of the county's "unencumbered" money to support the Hedgesville Volunteer Fire Department's effort to build a new fire station.

Teufel asked for $250,000. He received half of that amount, but also garnered a $100,000 earmark for the county's fire board to be used to leverage grant program money.

"I'll be back next year," said Teufel after the meeting. He is the commission's representative on the fire board.

The allocations were among $1.7 million in earmarks. Also approved Thursday were $30,000 for the Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority to pay for a transfer station study, Eastern Panhandle Transit Authority ($20,000), three vehicles for Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation ($65,000), an additional Sheriff's Department tax office employee ($24,653), Child Advocacy Center ($5,000), two vehicles for Animal Control, a vehicle for the Planning Department and another for the County Commission.

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The commission also allocated $80,000 to match a court facilities grant to replace the windows in the Dunn Building. Unencumbered money already was earmarked for hiring and outfitting a total of six court security officers and bailiffs at the new judicial center.

County leaders decided to ask Sheriff W. Randy Smith to use about $170,000 in accounts he has jurisdiction over for vehicles and complementing equipment.

About $296,000 not allocated was reimbursed to the county's Eastern Regional Jail and Courthouse accounts, County Administrator Deborah E. Hammond said.

Commissioners budgeted $2.8 million for jail costs for the 2005-06 fiscal year, and used all but about $40,000.

"We don't want that line (item) to run into a deficit," Hammond said.

The budget for the jail amounted to about one-sixth of the county's annual budgeted expenditures, Strauss said.

Teufel's request for the Hedgesville fire department likely was affected by the discovery earlier this month that county leaders would have to pay half of the money needed to purchase 155 touch-screen voting machines for the 2008 election.

The county's financial outlay ultimately amounted to $240,225. County leaders had acted on the belief that 100 percent of the purchase would be possible through a revolving loan program.

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