(02/13/2018)
Calhoun Commission President Kevin Helmick said the commission declined to rename a levy call to be placed on May's ballot to fund the Prosecuting Attonery's office.

Helmick said, "She (Shannon Johnson) wanted us to name levy for courthouse improvements or county park, apparently to be used to fund her salary." "I explained to her that was misrepresenting what the levy was and I would not do it. People need to know what they are voting on," said Helmick.

The full-time prosecutors salary was included in the last Emergency Services Levy, which is up for renewal in May.

In a letter from the prosecutor, Johnson contends the commission must pay her full-time salary whether the levy passes of not.

Johnson said, "I have seen some questions and concerns on social media regarding the issue. I have also seen some clear misstatements of the law on social media."

READ LETTER    Prosecutor SHANNON JOHNSON

"It is my belief that we can change her position from full time to part time if the levy fails. The county can show hardship with the state auditors and if approved can get it moved to part time," Helmick said.

Commissioner Michael Hicks said, "As Commissioner, I have the duty to follow the letter of the law, and that is the course I will take."

Hicks said, "WV Code § 7-7-4a, the most recent act of the West Virginia Legislature regarding the position of Prosecuting Attorney, details the procedures to increase a part-time prosecutor to full-time, or to return a fill-time prosecutor to part-time. As the Code reads, in either circumstance, mutual agreement is required between the Commission and the Prosecutor."

"Further, the Code states that the state auditor can determine if the county finances can sustain an increase from a part-time to full-time prosecutor, but the Code does not address whether the position can be reduced to part-time for financial reasons. Because there is no relevant WV case law regarding this Code, I have requested an advisory opinion from the WV Attorney General," Hicks stated.

Commissioner Westfall said, "I based my vote to separate the prosecuting attorneys full time salary levy from the emergency services levy on the advice and best interest of EMS, fire departments and sheriffs office."

"The EMS, fire departments and sheriffs office deal with potential life and death situations and it is very important that this levy pass, should the prosecutors salary levy fail and the commission be forced to pay for full time prosecutor, we would have to deal with it as best we can at that time," Westfall said.


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