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Berkeley County employees could lose jobs because of federal funding cuts

June 29, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Two Berkeley County employees could lose their jobs because federal funding for a program that the Berkeley County Council used to hire them has been cut, officials said Thursday.

Less than three weeks ago, the council voted 3-1 to hire an assistant for Litter Control/Code Enforcement Officer Donna Seiler through the Employment Subsidy Program administered by WorkForce West Virginia.

The county had agreed to pay $13,443 in benefits to the employee and was to be reimbursed for the employee’s salary of $26,063, officials have said.

The council voted on Jan. 26 to pay $18,432 in benefits to hire an information technology analyst through the federally funded agency, according to county records. The county was being reimbursed $48,000 in salary for that employee, the records said. 

Under the agreement, the county would have had to pay the salary as well as the benefits for both positions after one year if they decided to retain the jobs, officials have said.

The county received notice of the federal funding cut on Tuesday from T.J. Van Meter of WorkForce West Virginia, according to County Administrator Deborah Hammond, who said the letter came as a surprise.

Council President William L. “Bill” Stubblefield said the timing of the notice was “regrettable” because the 2012-13 budget was approved months ago.

Stubblefield said that the council wouldn’t have decided to add the positions if it didn’t think they could play “a significant role” in the county’s operation. 

Stubblefield said he expects the council will address the issue at next week’s meeting.  

Councilman Anthony J. “Tony” Petrucci, who voted against the hiring of the litter-control employee, said he would not support adding the salaries to the budget.

Petrucci said he doesn’t believe that the two positions are critically needed.

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