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County split over hiring IT technician

July 09, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. --The Berkeley County Commission on Thursday voted 2-1 to add an IT technician to the county's payroll, a decision that the majority said was justified by the Information Technology Department's workload.

Commissioner Anthony J. Petrucci, who voted against creating the position, commended Deputy County Administrator Alan J. Davis and IT Director Gary Wine for their presentation proposing the additional hire, but declined to comment after the meeting when asked about his vote.

The new technician's starting pay is expected to range between $28,330 and $45,327, depending on experience.

Wine told commissioners that the three-member department had a substantial backlog of work to do and was at a "standstill" in making progress on a number of projects.

The additional salary on the payroll will be paid with fees collected for 911/Central Dispatch services, Berkeley County Administrator Deborah Hammond said.

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Commissioner William L. Stubblefield said after the meeting that he expected additional personnel actions would be taken in the current fiscal year, including the addition of a "legal tech" for the commission's legal counsel, Norwood Bentley III.

"In the case of both Gary and Norwood, the individuals are just expending a phenomenal number of hours," Stubblefield said.

The hiring of a legal technician for Bentley was initially to be part of Thursday's personnel "package," but Stubblefield said they did not yet have information compiled that demonstrates the extent of Bentley's workload.

In the first six months of this year, the IT department staff worked 381 hours over their regular hours of availability, according to figures presented by Deputy County Administrator Alan J. Davis.

In addition to maintaining critical computer systems for county offices, Wine and his staff provide 24/7 service for the county's 911 emergency dispatch center and recently have programmed radios for the sheriff's department and installed a new operating system for the county clerk's office.

After lightning struck the sheriff's department offices at Emmett Rousch Drive last month, Wine said the IT department worked around the clock over a weekend to restore operations.

The strike caused at least $102,000 in damage and the repairs would have cost nearly $100,000 more in labor if the county did not have the IT department staff, Hammond said after the meeting.

Commission President Ronald K. Collins said Wine was at risk to suffer from burnout, considering all of the additional hours he has worked at no additional cost to the county.

Wine, who is paid $82,000 a year, is not eligible for overtime wages because he is considered an exempt employee, according to state and federal labor laws.

Before making a motion to authorize the hiring of additional IT technician, Stubblefield proposed that Wine strictly adhere to the county's standard 35-hour work week and focus on the core technology needs. The remaining hours of the department's availability would be divided equally among the offices of the other elected county officials, Stubblefield had proposed.

Neither Collins or Petrucci backed the more fiscally conservative proposal, leading Stubblefield to propose the hiring of an IT technician.

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