(03/28/2016)
The Calhoun Commission, while facing a decline in revenue, approved the 2016-17 budget Thursday.

Commissioner Kevin Helmick said, "Although we are expecting approximately $118,000 less money in the county revenues in the 2016-17 year, I believe we have a very workable budget this coming year."

"Each office has had to make some sacrifices, but even with these cuts the commission worked very hard to help employees with rising insurance costs," Helmick said.

The commission was able to step-up and cover a 4% PEIA health insurance increase for county employees.

Commissioner Chip Westfall said, "Some salary amounts were adjusted in the budget in an attempt to equalize salaries between offices, but it's up to the elected officials how the amount is distributed."

Commission president Bob Weaver said the commission, with limited resources and a stagnant tax base, continues to maintain a conservative budget.

With lost revenue, some counties are facing major cutbacks and layoffs, linked to a major decline in oil and gas revenues and coal severance taxes.

The state gaming payout has even declined seven to eight thousand dollars related to Calhoun's budget.

While Calhoun Sheriff Carl Ballengee has openly complained about major cuts to his budget, commissioners say the cuts were minimal to line items that were not being drawn down.

Ballengee had requested $101,117 more than his 2015-16 budget, said commissioners, with a tax deputy in office claiming the budget cuts were so severe there might not be enough money to buy ammunition.

The commission this week discussed a complaint from the Calhoun Deputy Sheriffs Civil Service Board regarding the previous hire by Sheriff Carl Ballengee of Charles McCroskey as a part-time deputy at 19 1/2 hours a week.

The civil service board felt that McCroskey did not meet the age requirements for the position, reportedly after receiving complaints about McCroskey making traffic stops with a belief he was to serve only as a bailiff.

The commission was advised by Prosecutor Shannon Johnson that McCroskey's part-time hire excluded him for the age requirements. Sheriff Carl Ballengee said his investigation indicated that McCroskey was a legal hire.

Grantsville businessman Tom Ullum has brought a civil suit against the county for $38,455 related to the storage of a vehicle requested by the West Virginia State Police in 2006.

Legal advice received by the commission, because there was no notification of the storage until more recently, and that the State Police requested the impound, the county is not liable for the charges.

Ullum is also seeking prejudgement and post-judgement interest, costs and attorney fees.

The commission approved a Flex-E-Grant application for Calhoun's Night Sky Project in the amount of $9,900 and reappointed Little Kanawha Economic Development as the lead development agency.


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