Berkeley Co. Council votes to bring back dismissed employees

July 19, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The Berkeley County Council voted 3-2 Thursday to reverse a previous split decision to lay off a litter control assistant that they hired in June.

The reversal came after the county learned last week that the state abandoned an abrupt funding cut planned for an employee subsidy program that was used to hire Lewis Shifflett.

Information technology analyst Donald Dechalus, who also was hired through the program in January, also will remain on the county payroll after the county council voted 4-1 to continue to his employment.

Voting against both hiring measures was Anthony J. “Tony” Petrucci, who listed the need to address county employee pay raises and capital improvement projects in county buildings.

Petrucci also said he didn’t believe either position was critical to the county’s function.

Copenhaver, who joined Petrucci in voting against the litter control position, said he expects the IT position will save the county money.

Copenhaver noted the litter control position wasn’t in the county’s approved budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year, which began July 1. Voting for both positions were William L. “Bill” Stubblefield, Elaine C. Mauck and James Whitacre.

The council voted to create the positions with the expectation of being reimbursed for the salaries through the subsidy program for a 12-month period.

Last month, the county was notified by Region VII Workforce Investment Board Executive Director T.J. Van Meter that funding was being cut for the WorkForce West Virginia program, effective June 30.

In the letter the county received last week, Van Meter said the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources announced it would honor the 12-month funding commitment for those hired prior to June 30.

County Administrator Deborah Hammond said that an “uproar” by employers across the state could have prompted the DHHR’s decision to revisit the cut in funding to the labor program.

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