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Berkeley Co. janitorial services cut criticized

January 17, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA ? West Virginia's state court administrator said Thursday he was "bewildered" by the Berkeley County Commission's decision to obligate circuit judges and certain county officers and staff with bathroom and office cleaning when state code requires the county to provide janitorial service.

"I've got my administrative legal counsel writing (the commission) a letter," said Steven D. Canterbury, administrative director of the Supreme Court of Appeals.

Canterbury quoted a section of Chapter 7 of the West Virginia Code, which states "the county commission shall keep the courthouse, jail and other offices in constant and adequate repair, and supplied with the necessary heat, light, furniture, record books and janitor service ..."

He also questioned the wisdom of the commission's decision in December to cut back on janitorial services at county buildings, particularly the judicial center, where the state court pays the county more than $75,000 in rent for the magistrate and family court offices.

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Dedicated in October 2006, the county commission paid a Chambersburg, Pa., general contractor about $19.4 million to renovate a historic brick woolen mill building the county purchased in Martinsburg, W.Va. The county uses it for offices and courtrooms for circuit, magistrate and family courts and their clerks, with offices for probation and the prosecuting attorney.

"It's one of the nicest court annexes in the nation," Canterbury said. "It does the state and county proud ... you want your building to go to hell in a hand basket? ... it's just not wise, it seems to me. It just seems to be a bad idea."

Contract changes result in $60,000 savings

A memo distributed to county officials this week by Jay Russell, the county's facilities director, at the county commission's behest, announced that cleaning and vacuuming of private county offices, bathrooms or kitchenettes was not included in the county's reworked contract with Lescrub Janitorial Services. The contract changes altogether resulted in a savings of about $60,000, decreasing the annual cost to $146,559.

"Multiple-use" bathrooms will still be cleaned by the contractor's employees and the private bathrooms for certain elected officers are expected to be stocked with supplies by Lescrub, Russell told commissioners Thursday.

Commission President Steven C. Teufel on Thursday requested a "full report" on how the revised cleaning arrangements would be carried out in wake of the decision in December by him and fellow commissioners to revise the cleaning contract to save money. A downturn in the construction and real estate market prompted the need to institute cuts and Teufel said he believed the cleaning contract reduction would be a short-term arrangement.

Some court officers said Wednesday they were prepared to fight being forced to ask their staff to shoulder janitorial duties, particularly cleaning of bathrooms.




West Virginia State Code



7-3-2. Courthouse, jail and offices. "...The county commission shall keep the courthouse, jail and other offices in constant and adequate repair, and supplied with the necessary heat, light, furniture, record books, and janitor service ...

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