The Calhoun Commission held what will likely be a series of meetings with elected officials, county employees and the public, for ideas on how to deal with current and future budget problems.

The commission is projecting a major shortfall for the 2011-12 budget year starting July 1, with declining revenue from WV tax streams and a stagnant tax base.

Commissioners will address the 2011-12 budget issues in March, but money problems are already surfacing, among them increased costs for the regional jail bill above the $120,000 budgeted for this year.

The regional jail bill could be over $100,000 more than budgeted.

Calhoun prosecutor Rocky Holmes offered a suggestiion to save about $3000 for purchase of WV Code books. He suggested a jail/corrections levy for the county, which was also supported by magistrate Rick Postalwait.

Holmes said increasing property taxes and taxes on mineral rights would be an option, and called for increasing the home confinement rates from $8 to $10 a day, indicating county residents pay among the lowest taxes.

Chief Deputy Carl Ballengee suggested a county operating levy, saying the voters could respond and make an informed decision about keeping the county going.

A suggestion was made by some county employees that they go to a four-day work week.

The commission told elected officials and county workers they would try not to eliminate further health benefits, although that option is on the table.

Cuts have already been made to employee benefits.

The commission has virtually eliminated discretionary spending over the past two years, and elected officials shaved $5,000 from their budgets.

The commission has been unable to restore the budget cuts for the elected officials, causing some offices to have problems during this budget year.

County commissions are not allowed to deficit spend like state and federal governments, with commissioners required to balance a budget within three percent. Commissioners are required by state code to fund county offices and their operating costs.

Hur Herald ©from Sunny Cal
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