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Berkeley County to lay off litter control assistant

Council tabled a vote on whether to continue to employ information technology analyst

July 05, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Berkeley County employee who was hired last month through a federally-funded program that has since been cut will be laid off at the close of business on July 20.

The Berkeley County Council voted 3-2 not to offer Litter Control Assistant Lewis Shifflett part-time employment, either.

The council tabled a vote on whether to continue to employ information technology analyst Donald DeChalus, who, like Shifflett, was employed through the WorkForce West Virginia Employee Subsidy Program.

Council President William L. “Bill” Stubblefield and Vice President Elaine C. Mauck voted to offer Shifflett part-time work as part of a proposal that would have cost the county $15,230 annually in salary and benefits.

Councilmen Anthony J. “Tony” Petrucci, James “Jim” Whitacre and Douglas E. Copenhaver Jr. voted against the proposal.

The county voted 3-1 last month to pay $13,443 in benefits for Shifflett, whose $26,063 full-time salary was to be funded through the WorkForce West Virginia program. Shifflett was hired June 18.

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Prior to voting, Copenhaver noted his absence for the initial vote on the litter control position and said he was in agreement with Petrucci, who voted against the proposal last month.

Petrucci on Thursday reiterated that the funding for Shifflett’s benefits was not part of the fiscal 2012-13 budget that the council had agreed upon earlier this year. The fiscal year began Sunday.

Petrucci said he previously voted in favor of paying $18,432 in benefits for the IT position, but indicated Thursday that he would not support adding DeChalus’ salary to the county’s budget.

The county would have to budget $28,047 in salary and benefits to employ DeChalus part-time, Deputy County Administrator Alan J. Davis told council members.

Hired Jan. 26, DeChalus’ full-time salary is $48,000.

Eliminating the IT position would not be “life threatening” to the county, Petrucci said. 

Copenhaver appeared to split with Petrucci on the IT position, saying at Thursday’s meeting that he believed DeChalus was doing things that would benefit the county financially.

Given the loss of the federal funding, Whitacre said Thursday he had concerns about funding the litter-control position, which Mauck said could have been paid for without any addition to the county’s budget.

Mauck noted the county was due to receive about $25,000 in federal funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency-backed, flood-plain hazard-mitigation program, which she said could offset the cost of employing Shifflett part-time.

Under the agreement with WorkForce West Virginia, 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 last week, according to County Administrator Deborah Hammond.

In other personnel action Thursday, the council also voted unanimously to hire Kira Chavon Pitts as a legal administrative assistant for county legal counsel Norwood Bentley III.

Pitts, who was among 49 applicants for the position, will be paid $26,063, Davis said.

Pitts’ salary is less than former Administrative Assistant Theresa Palmer, who resigned earlier this year, Davis said.

The job description was modified since Palmer resigned, according to Davis, who told Petrucci the position was budgeted.

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