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Bill to allow vote to decide expansion of commission approved

March 08, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Legislation that could allow Berkeley County voters to decide whether to expand the county commission passed the West Virginia House of Delegates Friday and was on its way to the governor's desk.

If Gov. Joe Manchin signs the legislation in the coming days, county voters in November's general election likely will be asked to consider the addition of two county officials to a new, five-member council.

The government's name would change to the Berkeley County Council if county voters approve the change, and the two additional officials would take office in January 2011.

County taxpayers essentially would be asked to consider whether they want to shoulder the additional salary - $36,960, plus benefits - and expenses to make room for them in the county government's office building off West Stephen Street.

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Both Commissioner William L. "Bill" Stubblefield and Commission President Steven C. Teufel, who have supported the right for voters to decide the question, have said they were mindful of Commissioner Ronald K. Collins' arguments against the proposal given the county's recent budget woes.

Teufel, however, has said the additional officials could help with lobbying state lawmakers in Charleston, W.Va., and assure county business would continue in instances when members were absent for health reasons.

As proposed, members of the new council would be elected from five of the county's six magisterial districts.

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