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Jefferson County budget goofs could delay park's indoor pool

July 31, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - Plans for an indoor swimming pool at Sam Michaels Park and a new judicial center in downtown Charles Town could be slowed due to a county budget miscalculation.

The Jefferson County Commission learned last week that their recently passed budget was nearly $2 million too high and on Monday they decided to reduce the money they put into a capital savings account to help make up the difference.

The commissioners agreed to reduce the amount they put into the account by about $1.3 million.

Because the account is used to fund new facilities, it could hurt plans for a proposed $3 million indoor pool at Sam Michaels Park north of Charles Town and a proposed judicial center downtown that would cost between $10 million and $11 million, said Commissioner Dale Manuel.

The commissioners also agreed to a list of other cost-saving measures to make up the budget shortfall, such as putting off a 1.5 percent pay raise for county employees and hiring a human resources director.

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Commissioner Jim Surkamp said the commissioners voted unanimously in favor of a budget revision Monday morning and all the commissioners gave up something in the process.

"If everybody doesn't like it, it must be the right compromise," Surkamp said.

The commission is working on various projects including a new 911 center and Jefferson County Sheriff's Department.

If there are cost overruns in those projects, it could hurt plans for the indoor pool and judicial center, Manuel said.

"We just need to do the best we can," Manuel said.

Corliss agreed that the pool project could be slowed down, but he said the judicial annex cannot be delayed because population growth is demanding more court space.

Corliss said the commissioners could ask voters for a tax increase to pay for the annex but that is "just crazy" because there is probably no support for it.

Or the commissioners could take out a loan for the judicial center, but that is not simple either, Corliss said.

"That just costs you more money," Corliss said.

Corliss said the budget shortfall occurred when there was a miscalculation in how much extra money would be rolled over from last year's budget.

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