(09/22/2012)
By Bob Weaver

Grantsville, not unlike many small rural towns in West Virginia, is facing money problems that could lead to reducing the two-man police force.

"The police chief is not going to exit at this time," said Mayor Curtis Garretson, indicating there has been fear that the "finances of the town will soon eliminate the police department."

Town Recorder Robert Petrovsky said the problem has sped-up since the town got out of the garbage business, saying "It created a cash flow problem" for the town's general fund, from which the police department is funded.

After a worn-out trash truck needed replaced and costs of providing labor for trash services seemed prohibitive, the town made a verbal contract with Waste Management to provide service to the town's 372 residential and 40 commercial customers.

The town's trash operation generated about $85,000 annually at a cost of $67,000, with a profit of about $18,000, according to a financial statement, but that was without purchasing a new trash truck.

Mayor Garretson said, "I do not regret the decision to get rid of the trash business. I told the town council at the time that we have no choice but to make a contract with Waste Management to take care of the trash service," related to the truck being at the end of its life.

Garretson said at the time, there was concensus on that decision.

Garretson said town recorder Robert Petrosky later informed him the town was experiencing financial troubles, having problems paying bills and employees.

"He (Petrosky) thought this might be because of the recent elimination of the trash business and he spoke in favor of bringing back the trash business at a September meeting," said Garretson.

"The reason why there were rumors about the police department being eliminated is because they have one of the largest budgets at $87,000 a year."

Some of WV's smallest towns have had to eliminate their police department. Years ago, Elizabeth eliminated their town officer and contract with the county sheriff at $5,500 to cover the town.

"In the last couple of weeks we have received our tax check from the county, and things have improved to some extent," Garretson said.

"I will not encourage the council members to vote in favor of this (going back into trash business) until there are solid numbers to back it up," Garretson said, indicating there is a reason why most small regional towns have gone out of the garbage business.

The town has sent letters to business owners requesting financial assistance for the police department.

Garretson said a continued effort is being made with property owners to remove or clean-up their destroyed or dilapidated structures.


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