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Budget concerns prompt freezing of new jobs

August 10, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Budget concerns prompted the Berkeley County Commission on Thursday to freeze the planned hiring of a litter control officer, grant writer and traffic planner, but the commissioners agreed to move forward with hiring an in-house information technology manager.

The county's full-time Director of Information Technology would reduce the need for contracted services that have amounted to more than $250,000 since 2004 and save more than $100,000 a year, according to Commission President Steven C. Teufel.

Teufel credited Commissioner Ronald K. Collins for exploring the merits of creating the new position.

The salary for the full-time position with benefits will range from $77,000 to $124,500, according to Human Resources Director Alan J. Davis. The Commission voted to advertise the newly created job Thursday. Applications for the job will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Aug. 24, Davis said in the announcement.

The person hired would manage all aspects of information and telecommunications technology for the County Commission, county departments and the county's other elected officials.

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The individual also is expected to maintain and update the electronic security systems in all Berkeley County facilities, including the county's judicial center.

The individual's work will replace at least part of the contracted services now being provided by Morgantown, W.Va.-based Software Systems Inc., Teufel said after the meeting.

Teufel said Collins had determined that the county paid the company about $257,000 since 2004, including money for travel, meals and lodging while responding to the county's needs.

Commissioner William L. "Bill" Stubblefield agreed that the three other positions, though already advertised, should remain unfilled, at least until January 2008.

"With our funding now, it's probably not reasonable to go out and hire ..." Stubblefield said.

Stubblefield did win support from Collins and Teufel to explore the idea of incorporating the traffic planner job responsibilities with an existing vacancy in the county's engineering department and "double hat" the individual hired.

Though informally approved earlier this year, Teufel said the downturn in the housing market indirectly affected the decision to freeze the hiring of the three new positions. But he also noted increasing salaries for current employees was a limiting factor as well.

"Salaries have grown to about $1 million a month," Teufel said.

If only paid the minimum of the salary range provided by Davis ($77,000), the county's yet-to-be-hired Director of Information Technology would still rank among the top five highest-paid county employees, according to county records.

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