POINT PLEASANT — After the Mason County Commission announced it was looking at an unexpected budget surplus which allowed it to reinstate funding to outside agencies that were cut earlier this year, county employees will also see at least a little more money in their paycheck.
At this week’s meeting of the Mason County Commission, Commissioners Rick Handley and Tracy Doolittle voted to lower employee contributions to PEIA (health insurance). Commissioner Miles Epling was not at the meeting.
Earlier this year, employees saw their contributions to PEIA raise $20 for a family plan and $10 for a single plan. Effective Sept. 1, those increases go away and go back to what the employee was previously paying.
The surplus and county finances have been a hot topic lately, especially at the county court house.
As previously reported, at a meeting earlier this month when the surplus and funding reinstatement were initially discussed, in a two-to-one vote, the commission also voted to allow raises for county office holders as formulated by the state and passed by the legislature. Epling and Handley voted for the raises, Doolittle voted no, saying she felt the commission needed to wait before considering the raises. The initial report of how much the raises would cost the general fund was incorrectly reported due to one county official not signing up for the pay increase.
Earlier this year, office holders were asked to request the salary increase in writing, if it was deemed financially possible and approved by the W.Va. Auditor of State’s office. These raises are in reference to Senate Bill 1005. If an office holder does not sign for it in writing, they don’t receive the raise. However, upon re-election or a replacement for the position, the raise becomes automatic, according to the law. It has been eight years since the positions of elected officials received a pay raise.
All elected office holders in Mason County signed the affidavit to accept the raise at this time except Mason County Prosecuting Attorney R. Craig Tatterson. Initially, the county mistakenly believed Tatterson had signed the affidavit but he had not and said he did not wish to pursue it at this time. The amount of the raise for the prosecuting attorney’s position, according to the county’s current tax classification is $12,242.86, which would’ve included salary plus the cost of FICA and retirement. Initially, all of these salary increases to the county budget totaled $56,274.07 but now that number is less the $12,242,86 for the prosecutor’s position.
The raises break down as follows, according to the auditor of state’s office. In Class III: County Commission (this includes the increase of all three commissioners total, not a single commissioner), total increase for all three combined $15,608.91; County Clerk, total increase $7,803; County Sheriff, total increase $6,407.31; Circuit Clerk, total increase $7,803.85; County Assessor, total increase, $6,407.31. Again, it should be noted the raise breakdown for elected officials reported here includes salary plus the cost of FICA and retirement. In Mason County, due to its tax classification dropping to Class III, as of July 1, office holders had lost 2.5 percent of their previous salary as formulated by the state based upon tax revenue.
In other Commission news this week:
Evelyn Fitzwater and Nancy Eads of the Mason County Solid Waste Authority asked the commission to reconsider reinstating some of its funding to allow for the hire of a new employee. A discussion ensued about whether or not the commission could afford to pay for salary and other benefits of a full time employee and asked if a part time employee would suffice or if the authority would rather have money for a county-wide cleanup. Fitzwater and Eads insisted there was a definite need for another employee and were unsure if grant funding would be reinstated to keep its workforce intact. The two are to return to the commission with a proposal defining the hours and cost of a part time employee.
Commissioners approved the design contract for a resurfacing and rehabilitation project at the Mason County Airport for $73,000. This project is 100 percent funded by the federal government and state aviation authority, meaning no county money was spent. The contract went to Chapman Technical Group.
Commissioners showed support for September being National Recovery Month and Sept. 9 as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Awareness Day. Members of the Mason County Anti-Drug Coalition and Mountain State Healthy Families were on hand to present proclamations of these events. More on these next week. Coalition member Diana Riddle also brought up the Third Annual Ride For Recovery event on Sept. 13. The ride stops in Point Pleasant at 10 a.m. that morning at Riverfront Park. Riddle also thanked the commission for reinstating the health department’s funding due to the surplus.
Sally Smith was hired for a full time position in the Mason County Assessor’s office starting Oct. 1.
William D. Black was hired as a part-time employee at the 911 center.
The commission received a letter of thanks from the Battle Days Committee about having its county funding for the event reinstated after the surplus.