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Layoffs possible as Jefferson County considers 5 percent funding cut

April 01, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- Two deputy positions in the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department might have to be eliminated under a cost-cutting plan the Jefferson County Commission is considering in the formulation of its 2008-09 budget.

The commissioners have been struggling to come up with a balanced budget for the upcoming fiscal year after realizing they were facing about a $2 million funding shortfall.

The $2 million shortfall was caused by revenue estimates being down, Manuel said. Part of that drop was due to a $600,000 decline in property transfer fees, which are paid to the county when a property is sold, and a decrease in building permits, Manuel said.

Manuel said the shortfall also can be attributed to 11 new hires over the year and new programs.

Last week, the commissioners considered cutting funding to outside agencies by 50 percent to balance the budget.

The commissioners met again Monday to work on the budget and the plan has changed, Commissioner Dale Manuel said.

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The commissioners are considering a 5 percent funding cut to all county departments, county elected officials and outside agencies, Manuel and Commissioner Rusty Morgan said.

Also under the plan, $1 million would be taken from savings to balance the budget, Manuel said.

Manuel said some county elected officials are concerned because they might have to eliminate jobs because of the proposed funding cuts.

If the commissioners proceed with the new plan, the sheriff's department might have to cut two deputy positions, Lt. Dave Colbert said.

That could hurt the department because officers working in specialized areas like crimes against children and narcotics might have to be pulled from those areas to handle other duties, Colbert said.

Morgan agreed Monday that there could be layoffs.

"Certainly, we've tried to avoid that," Morgan said.

The proposed 50 percent reduction in funding to outside agencies would have negated the need for layoffs, Morgan said.

The commissioners agreed Monday to continue working on the budget at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

The budget was supposed to be filed with the state by last Friday but Manuel said last week that there will be no penalty for going beyond the budget deadline.

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