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Berkeley Co. Council endorses pay raises for county employees

March 19, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Berkeley County Council on Tuesday in a budget work session agreed to allocate more than $300,000 for pay increases for full- and part-time county employees for the 2013-14 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

The money budgeted for pay increases is based on full-time county employees receiving a $1,000 across-the-board pay raise and part-time workers receiving an extra 50 cents per hour, officials said.

Each elected county officer has the authority to ultimately decide how the money allocated by the county council is spent, but Assessor Larry Hess, Circuit Clerk Virginia M. Sine, County Clerk John W. Small Jr. and Sheriff Kenneth Lemaster Jr., had previously requested the $1,000 increase for their respective staffs.

Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely asked for raises that ranged from $2,500 to $10,000 for her staff of attorneys, legal assistants and part-time staff.

The pay raises would be the first for county employees since October 2010, officials said. 

Aside from the pay increase adjustment, County Council in Tuesday’s budget work session decided to provide Sine enough money to hire an additional deputy circuit clerk for records-related work, but decided against Lemaster’s budget request to hire additional staff.

County Council President Anthony J. “Tony” Petrucci said he was sympathetic to Sine’s request for more staff, but didn’t support it. He later questioned the majority of the council’s support for adding a circuit clerk, but not hiring a part-time position that the sheriff requested.

Lemaster confirmed later Tuesday that he had asked for the additional deputy for the new Spring Mills High School, another full-time deputy and two part time staff for the judicial center. Deputies already are assigned to Hedgesville and Musselman high schools in an agreement with the Berkeley County Board of Education, which shoulders much of the expense, county officials said.

Spring Mills High School is set to open for students in August.

Aside from Sine and Lemaster’s personnel requests, the council decided Tuesday to move funding — more than $135,000 — previously set aside for hiring three additional paid firefighters to the contingency fund.

Agreements have yet to be finalized for the placement of one paid firefighter at Back Creek Valley Volunteer Fire Department beginning July 1 and two others at Hedgesville Volunteer Fire Department beginning Jan. 1, 2014, officials said.

Last week, county council decided that four full-time facilities workers would replace four of several part-time employees who have previously been hired to work on the future headquarters for the Berkeley County sheriff’s law enforcement division at 510 S. Raleigh St.

Tuesday’s personnel and salary decisions left more than $200,000 in unallocated funding, which the council then decided to put in its “Other Buildings” account for capital improvement projects.

The council also decided to increase an allocation to the Martinsburg Berkeley County Parks & Recreation Board from $28,000 last year to $50,000.

Council member Douglas E. Copenhaver Jr. said the parks and recreation board has concerns about how quickly the county’s second recreation center on the Musselman High School campus will become financially self-sustainable. 

The increased allocation also would reduce the balance of a $500,000 verbal commitment that county leaders previously had made to the Parks & Recreation Board to less than $100,000 outstanding, Copenhaver said.

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