POINT PLEASANT — After the books were recently, officially closed on the previous fiscal year, the Mason County Commission had a budget carryover of 105,100.
Commissioners Tracy Doolittle, Miles Epling and Rick Handley voted to appropriate those funds into organizations such as fire departments, the library board, the health department and more, as well as to county maintenance needs such as roof repair and mowers.
These new appropriations were made to the following organizations, in addition to any money that organization was already appropriated in the current fiscal year: All volunteer fire departments in Mason County will receive an additional $3,000 each. The Mason County Health Department will receive an additional $6,250. The Mason County Development Authority will receive an additional $10,000. The Mason County Library Board will receive an additional $7,250. The Mason County Airport will receive $7,000 to match five percent of a grant for upgrades to the facility. The Mason County Courthouse Annex Roof Project will receive $10,000. The Mason County Fair, which received no funding in the previous version of the budget, will now receive $3,000. The Extension Service will receive $20,000 to secure an agriculture agent and secretary for the county. There was $9,900 appropriated for mowers for county property maintenance.
In addition, the commission appropriated $10,000 to the 4-H dining hall project. Aside from donating the estimated $2,000 from right-of-way fees the county will receive for the U.S. 35 upgrade near the 4-H camp, this is the first appropriation the commission has made to the project estimated to cost $100,000 with around $60,000 already raised from private donations and fundraising. The labor on the project is being provided by the West Virginia Army National Guard.
Also, the commission has allocated $3,700 to be distributed between local community buildings and parks for assistance with utility costs. This includes community buildings in Hartford, New Haven, Henderson, Letart, Baden, Beech Hill, Gallipolis Ferry as well as Leon Town Park.
When it comes to constructing a budget, the county commission must first fund court house offices and then outside agencies with what is left. Mason County’s total budget for FY 2016-17 was $7,100,614, down slightly from last year’s total budget of $7,221,006.
At the time this latest budget was discussed this spring, County Administrator John Gerlach told commissioners, in regards to the new budget year, revenue didn’t go down as much as he had anticipated though expenses went up more than he had expected. One of the most significant expenses was a four percent increase in Public Employee Insurance Agency premiums for employees. Commissioners said though the county could not afford pay raises for employees this year, the county would absorb that four percent increase, rather than pass it on to employees.
Also at that time, Gerlach said the county lost $10 million in valuation in public utilities with significant losses also in oil and gas revenue, and coal severance funds.
As promised, Gerlach said after July 1, the county would know if it had any “carryover” money from last year to put back into the FY 2016-17 budget, which the current appropriations in this article reflect.
Reach Beth Sergent at [email protected] or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.