Update: Wood County has $701,000 budget carryover into 2017-18

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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Updated: 7/31/2017 5:25 P.M.

It's not only what Wood County officials were hoping for-it's actually a bit better.

They were told Monday the carryover from last year's budget to the current fiscal year is more than $701,000.

The reason that's good news is the county, in recent years, has been grappling with a budget that's getting tighter and tighter.

Partly getting credit for the good carryover, is credits for overpayments the county made on its regional jail bill.

But Commission President Blair Couch says the ultimate goal is actually lowering that bill.

"The last jail bill was $200,000 and change, prior to the credits," Couch said at Monday's commission meeting. "We need to get back into the $175's that we saw not too awful long ago."

The reason the carryover is important, is, as the county has explained recently, it uses it to pay its employees until revenues come in for the current budget year.

The county estimated a carryover of $680,000. The money it wasn't counting on will go to its contingency, or "rainy day fund".

Updated: 4/18/2017 6:50 P.M.

Wood County residents will pay more in their property taxes, in the upcoming budget year beginning in July.

As expected, the county commission approved a higher levy rate Tuesday, the first increase since 2001.

Its approval comes after cuts were made during the recent budget process in a number of items in the recently passed 2017-2018 budget.

That includes funding to the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport and the regional health department.

Although the state of West Virginia has its own problems, commissioners criticized the state for not doing enough to help its 55 counties.

"In other words, they will not do what they have to do to offer remedies," Commissioner Jimmy Colombo lamented. "And their remedy is, let the county raise taxes to fix this problem. People like us, we don't want to do that. How can you afford to spend $3 million a year for your (regional) jail bill, when you don't do things for your county?"

Commission President Blair Couch says the new levy rate is a decision he had a hard time making. He added, however, the increase still leaves Wood County with one of West Virginia's lowest levy rates.

The change means the owner of a $100,000 home will pay an additional $35 in property taxes, and still far from the maximum levy rate allowed by the state.


After weeks of discussion, Wood County Commission approved next year's budget Monday morning.
And this year, groups and organizations outside county government will take the biggest hit.

The new budget generally holds the line on the individual budgets for County offices, with no extra money set aside for pay raises. But pay raise decisions are usually left to department heads.

Some outside agencies took a cut of as much as 50 percent in the spending plan that will begin in July. One reason for the reductions is an effort to bring as much money as possible over from this year, to meet payroll for the first three months of the new fiscal year.

Commissioner Bob Tebay reflected on the hard work by department heads to restrain their proposed budgets for the next fiscal year.

“You all presented budgets this year where you held the line, and if there was any increase, it was very, very minor."
"I've thought of the cartoon character with the cloud over his head. That cloud is the jail bill. That's where our concerns have been."

Commissioner Tebay referred to the cost of housing prisoners in the Wood County Regional Jail, an expense that's increased $700,000 since July 2016.
Commission President Blair Couch says Wood County is not looking to see prisoners released early, just to hold down the jail bill.

The next task for the Commission is to set property tax rates, which are expected to increase for the first time in nearly two decades.
That action will be taken next week.

Couch says, even with the increase, Wood County will still rank near the bottom in levy rates among West Virginia's 55 counties.

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