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Budget issues concern Berkeley County Commissioners

October 31, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Fresh evidence of Berkeley County government's ongoing budget woes surfaced Thursday when the County Commission declined to approve spending $2,045 to insure Morgan Cabin and three other county historic properties or make any guarantee of helping the sheriff buy police cruisers.

"I'm petrified about our budget for this coming year' maybe not 'petrified,' but I'm very concerned," Commissioner William L. "Bill" Stubblefield told Berkeley County Historic Landmarks Commission chairman Don C. Wood and two other landmarks commission members Thursday.

Wood told the commission that the Landmarks Commission had enough money to pay for insurance from Nov. 1 through June 2009, but also asked for help with future premiums.

Sheriff W. Randy Smith said he had enough money in his budget to purchase two cruisers for recently hired deputies, but wanted to pursue additional vehicles that he said were being sold at a considerable savings.

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"We have a real problem with deer," Smith said. "We hit 'em all the time or they run into us."

The sheriff later confirmed that one deputy wrecked a cruiser earlier this month on Interstate 81 in a construction zone and totaled the vehicle. The deputy managed to avoid serious injury other than "a stitch or two," Smith said.

Commission President Steven C. Teufel told Wood that the county's budget constraints are such that he and the other commissioners are "not making any promises" on future allocations, but Teufel also encouraged Wood to continue to follow up with commissioners in upcoming budget discussions.

When asked about the impact of continually sluggish fee-generated revenue, Stubblefield said any move toward making major spending cuts through layoffs was premature and indicated he was going to continue to monitor spending.

In the meeting Thursday, Stubblefied questioned the rationale of a $3,025 bill for cleaning the sheriff's department at 802 Emmett Rousch Drive.

Afterward, Stubblefield said he thought the commission had terminated the cleaning contract it had with Lescrub Janitorial Services in June as part of a cost savings plan.

Stubbefield said the October bill from Lescrub was the second time that he noticed the expense for the Sheriff's facilities. The first time, Stubblefield said he was told the bill was for cleaning done under the previous contract.

"I'm not so concerned about what had been done, but I don't want to continue to pay for a service that we don't need," Stubblefield said.

The sheriff said Thursday he assumed the cleaning contract had been revised and told the commission he didn't take part in any decision made about how the facilities would be cleaned.

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