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Jefferson Co. faces budget, personnel issues

July 27, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Tensions were obvious among Jefferson County Commission members Thursday during their meeting as they dealt with a number of issues relating to the budget, personnel and insurance.

The commissioners learned that the roughly $23 million budget they recently passed was nearly $2 million too high, and Commissioner Greg Corliss said cuts could be made to reduce it.

Those measures could include deferring the hiring of a human resources director for the county or an architect to design an indoor pool for Sam Michaels Park, Corliss said.

The commission discussed the budget issues in the morning and agreed to resume at 1 p.m. to continue the discussion. When the commissioners returned at 1 p.m., they instead adjourned for the day, and Commissioners Rusty Morgan and Jim Surkamp immediately left the room.

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Commission President Frances Morgan said after the meeting that the commission is trying to determine what the "rollover balance" is since the last fiscal year ended June 30.

"We're just trying to do a little cleanup," Morgan said. "It's not a huge thing."

Also during the meeting, former County Commissioner Jim Ruland appeared before the commission, and said there was a rumor of a possible dismissal action involving the county administrator.

After Ruland make his remarks, Surkamp removed an item called "personnel matter" from the agenda.

County Administrator Leslie Smith, who was at the meeting, did not say anything nor did the commissioners.

The commissioners also talked about overpayment of premiums to the county's insurance agency.

About $89,000 in insurance premiums were paid for employees who had left the county, Corliss said. The insurance company has agreed to repay about $39,000 of the premiums to the county, he said.

Payment of premiums is handled through the Jefferson County Clerk's Office, and the commission questioned how the problem could have happened.

"I would think there would be a system of checks and balances," Frances Morgan said.

Jefferson County Clerk Jennifer Maghan defended her office, saying workers there simply follow the direction of the commission.

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