County officials present 2020-21 fiscal year budget requests at GCC meeting

By Peggy Mackenzie

The Tuesday morning Greenbrier County Commission meeting opened with presentations from the various elected county officials, department heads and other entities with budget requests for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Most attendees reported their department budgets would include a five percent increase to employees’ salaries, but otherwise will be the same as the previous fiscal year request.

Those few departments with extended interior subdivisions requested the commission consider some additional expenses. Greenbrier County Sheriff Bruce Sloan’s report included a $10,000 cost outlay for Taser replacement equipment, which he called “a phase one expense.” He said the outlay for the entire department was too costly to include in one year’s budget.

Homeland Security Executive Director Mike Honaker said when he started his job, he got the impression that the 911 Emergency Center’s pay system was “a train wreck, with no rhyme or reason.” He has since established a starting pay for all employees at $12 an hour, and as a result he will not ask the commission for any increase in pay for a couple of years. But last year the department encountered numerous breakdowns of costly equipment, including heating systems, generators, and air conditioners, all requiring repairs and replacements. Honaker said the job requires that he and deputy director Paula Brown frequently travel to all parts of the state at no over-time pay, working seven days a week,  deploying needed safety equipment serving a wide array of needs ranging from housing issues for 2016 flood victims to whether or not another flood is expected for the area to coronavirus preparations.

“We’re just an agency that just does not stop,” he said. His budget request included hiring an administrative assistant and to retain an airport command post on site which will replace an inadequate “double-wide” the department is currently using.

In other business:

  • Fayetteville Mayor Sharon Cruikshanks as director of the New River Gorge CVB, presented an award and plaque to CVB Executive Director Kara Dense from the West Virginia Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus in recognition of the Greenbrier County CVB’s effective advertising campaigns in presenting West Virginia as a travel destination. With the members of the CVB board looking on, Dense accepted the award for the organization.
  • The County Commission had two items of business on the agenda. The first was to open and review two bid applications for the Homeland Security Grant 19-SHS-11 Swiftwater Response Gear. The gear will serve both the Lewisburg and White Sulphur Springs fire and rescue departments with a total of 30 complete personal sets of extensive equipment, which includes dry suits, helmets, vests, fins, eye protection, headsets, gloves and more. Interstate Rescue’s bid came in at $43,700 and Diving Enterprises’ bid was totaled to $48,716. The County Commission will serve as a pass-through entity for the grant and will review the two bids before announcing the winning recipient.
  • The second agenda item concerned courthouse security status change for security guard Gerald Halstead, who is retiring as a full time employee at the end of the month. He will continue with the county on a part-time basis, with the full-time position being filled by Jeff Doss.

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