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Allemong to assume new role with Berkeley County land use department

November 12, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Berkeley County Planning Department Director Stefanie Allemong will receive a salary increase of $11,475 as head of the county's newly created Department of Land Use Planning & Engineering.

Allemong will be paid $62,000 in her new position, which was unanimously approved Thursday by the Berkeley County Commission.

Allemong's current job is being eliminated as part of a consolidation of the county's planning, engineering, building permit and code enforcement functions into a new department. The restructuring will take effect at the end of the year when William J. "Bucky" Teach, the county's top engineer, retires.

Teach announced in May his intention to step down after working with the county for about 20 years. His yet-to-be-named replacement will work under Allemong in an administrative setup that commissioners have said should result in better customer service to the public.

"There were enough positives for me ... to give her a shot," Commissioner Anthony J. "Tony" Petrucci said of his decision to vote for Allemong's appointment to the job.

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"I do have some concerns with the salary of the department head as I've said before," Petrucci said.

Petrucci said the county's legal counsel, Norwood Bentley III, advised the commission they did not have to advertise the new position if Allemong agreed to take on Teach's administrative duties as county engineer in addition to her current responsibilities.

Commission President Ronald K. Collins said Thursday the commission would likely decide who will take over Teach's engineering work in December.

Teach's retirement announcement came only a few months before he and the Berkeley County Commission agreed to settle a 2007 federal lawsuit, which claimed he violated the constitutional rights of an electrical contractor.

County officials agreed to pay $15,000 to settle the suit, and about $270,000 in attorneys fees have been paid through the county's insurance policy thus far, Bentley said Thursday. Attorney Michael D. Lorensen, who represented the county in the case, is expected to submit bills for about $15,000 in addition to about $70,000 that he has been paid by the insurance company, Bentley said. The electrical contractor's attorneys were paid $200,000 by the county's insurance policy, Bentley said. Since the lawsuit was filed, the county has obtained new insurance coverage and Bentley said he did not expect the loss to affect the county's current premium.

Deputy County Administrator Alan J. Davis said Thursday that 21 people applied for the county engineer job, which was advertised. Two finalists have been chosen from eight candidates who were interviewed, Davis said.

Davis told commissioners Thursday that the county's reorganization, combined with job market factors, justified dropping the pay range classification for the county engineer position below Allemong's new pay range. The commission on Thursday also approved decreasing the pay range for the assistant county engineer position as well.

"It's an employers' market," Davis said in an interview after the commission meeting.

The pay grade changes ensure the county will remain within the county commission's approved budget, Davis said.

Among nonelected county positions, Teach's job ($82,915) is the third-highest paid on the county payroll, according to records maintained by County Clerk John W. Small Jr.'s office.

Only Bentley ($108,000) and County Administrator Deborah Hammond ($85,490) are paid more.

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