Headed For The Wrecking Ball


Updated: 8/1/2013 6:30 P.M.

There are parts of the old Civil Air Patrol building on the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport grounds, notably the kitchen area, that are still usable.

But the airport manager told the county commission Thursday that making repairs to the structure probably wouldn't be worth the cost.

"It's going to continue to decay, and at some point," Terry Moore said, "even talking to the county engineer, it becomes a hazardous building. We need to seal it off, so demo is the best solution to that. But that may still be a couple of years down the road."

Another building without a future is the long-time location of the Wood County Jail, later the holding center. The latter is now housed in the nearby justice center.

Efforts to find someone to occupy it, including a use as a local extension of the regional jail, have been unsuccessful.

"(The state of West Virginia) did the homework; it's an old jail, it's inefficient, it's very expensive," says Commission President Wayne Dunn. "They decided it's not a good move for the state of West Virginia, so they passed on it."

And it's costing the county about $8,000 a year to operate.
About the only use it's had in the past year and a half, was as a filming site earlier this year for the "Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies" movie.

Dunn chuckled while saying: "I think, unless we sell it to Hollywood as a movie production studio, I don't think we're going to have much use for it."

If there is a use related to the old holding center, it may not be for the building, but for the lot it sits on.

Dunn says that if a planned expansion of the Bureau of Public Debt goes on...the site could be available for more parking.
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Updated: 7/29/2013 6:35 P.M.

There are Wood County department workers getting pay raises this fiscal year...but not because the county commission granted them.

The commission learned Monday that county Assessor Rich Shaffer used a retiring employee's salary, to raise the salaries of his remaining employees.

"He is spreading that money among his other employees, which he has a right to do," Commissioner Steve Gainer said. "I am happy about that, but the thing I'm upset about is that he didn't tell us about it."

What will happen with other employees' pay, is anyone's guess. The commission says it will have to look long and hard at future revenues, before making pay adjustments. That, after recently learning this year's budget is basically flat compared to last year's.

"Our revenue has been flat for the last five years, and yet, costs are going up," said Commission President Wayne Dunn. "This had to happen eventually, and it had to, unless we can find a way to increase our revenues."

One thing the commissioners did discuss: the possible sale or demolition of the former Wood County Holding Center, vacant since that's moved to the Joseph Albright Justice Center last year.

"If we tear it down, or do something else with it," Dunn said, "there's a chance it can not only cut the cost, but be a revenue source. And we certainly need a revenue source."

Dunn says the best means of increasing revenue is for the county's economy to grow.

Updated: 7/23/2013 6:40 P.M.

The county assessor says Wood County's revenue outlook this year is about as clear as the Little Kanawha River has been lately.

"I do anticipate a similar type of growth to what we've had the last couple of years," Assessor Rich Shaffer told the commission Monday. A small increase (1-2%) ."

While revenues have been flat in recent years, the expenditures have risen. But not the salaries of many Wood County employees.

"It's a matter of, even though things are tight, whether or not we want to give a one-time (pay raise) again," said Wayne Dunn, Commission President, "or a 25-30 cent an hour pay raise that's permanent."

With carryover from the last budget year about $60,000 less than expected, another commissioner believes that, instead of debating pay hikes, it should be discussing persuading department heads and elected officials to hold the line on employees.

"If we didn't hire all these extra people," said Steve Gainer, "we would have money for a pay raise."

A possible source of money would be the county's reserve, or "rainy day" fund. but that also isn't getting a lot of support.

Also discussed was that some elected officials can decided to grant raises for their employees, with the funds they were provided in their own budget allocations.
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Updated: 3/25/2013 6:10 P.M.

$700,000: that's the amount of the increase from the current year in the $20 million fiscal year budget the Wood County Commission approved Monday.

And with one possible exception, the sheriff's department, that does not include any increases for county departments. At least one, the 911 center, requested a decrease from it's current fiscal year budget.

"With a new sheriff coming in, he needed some changes, but he tried to hold to the budget, too, as much as he could," Commission President Wayne Dunn said after Monday's passage. "He has the biggest portion of our budget, far more than any other department of our government. The others actually came in what we gave them last year, or even a little bit less."

While it doesn't anticipate an increase in the county levy rate this year, Dunn said there would, eventually be a need for increased county revenues. While not related to the budget discussions, commissioners Monday said a county permit fee, related to the anticipated oil and gas drilling, may be up for consideration at a later date.

"A $10, 15 or even $20,000 permit fee, that's not unfair, might offset the burden to the county itself," noted Commissioner Blair Couch, "to help maintain the records, to find names and phone numbers of people who have control over this, so if there is an issue with someone's road, we know who to send them to."

The increase also takes into account optimism that the slow recovery of the economy will continue into next year.

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A new face in the Wood County Prosecutor's Office-and closer to a new Wood County Budget.

Nancy McGhee was sworn in as an assistant prosecutor Thursday by Commission President Wayne Dunn.

McGhee is a graduate of WVU Law School and has worked in the magistrate court system.

Meanwhile, the commission has set this coming Monday as the day to pass its budget for the fiscal year beginning in July.

Thursday, it referred the budget to the county finance department for its approval.


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