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Berkeley County delays layoffs

December 18, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. -- The Berkeley County Commission on Thursday gave its human resources director four more weeks to determine what government positions should be cut to help close a projected $1.5 million deficit.

Alan J. Davis told the commission as many as eight positions could be eliminated after a "cursory review," but said he needed more time to meet with department heads to make sure he made the best recommendation.

"I think the additional time would be well-spent," Davis said of his request for the commission to delay action until Jan. 15.

Davis said four vacant positions to be left unfilled will result in about $100,000 in savings and the additional cuts could save another $300,000.

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Commissioner William L. "Bill" Stubblefield acknowledged the extended delay was less than ideal for employees working in departments being eyed for possible cuts, but said he did not want to make the wrong cuts, either.

"I think we're being very prudent in doing this ..." said Commissioner Ronald K. Collins, who separately announced that employees would be given additional duties as part of a staff reorganization that possibly will involve job title changes, but no additional pay.

"There will be no increase in anybody's salary," Collins said.

Last week, Davis said as many as 49 full-time employees could be affected by the reduction in force policy that the commission adopted. The remaining 203 full-time county employees are under the supervision of the county's elected assessor, circuit clerk, county clerk, prosecuting attorney and sheriff, and are not affected by the policy.

The staffing delay came as the commission approved the hiring of an IT specialist for 911 Central Dispatch Director Mary Kackley's department and cut the county's planning department revenue budget by $481,329 to reflect the continued shortfall in projected fees collected from regulatory oversight of the housing market.

The person hired for the IT job, Chun Hung Poon of Martinsburg, will receive a $40,000 salary that will be paid with fees collected to operate and maintain the county's 911 system.

In November, the planning department's budget was reduced by $556,344.

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