Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pay raises approved in Cabell budget

March 27, 2010 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- The Cabell County Commission unanimously approved the Fiscal Year 2010-2011 budget on Friday which included $500 pay raises for all civilian employees working in the courthouse and $1,000 raises for sheriff's deputies.

Commissioners agreed that the budget was one of the tightest they've have to deal with in recent years but were pleased they were able to give pay raises. The commission said it was also pleased that it was able to find enough money to give the elected officials most of what they asked for.

The cost of the raises for the 144 civilian employees and 40 deputies will be $72,000 and $40,000, respectively.

"I think the commission did as much as it possibly could with the dollars we had available," said Commissioner Nancy Cartmill. "I think what we gave (employees) was a very small pay raise for the county to give their employees, but it does let our employees know that we haven't forgotten them."

Commissioner Bob Bailey said the raises may be small, but they are much needed since the worldwide financial collapse.

"In this economy, when people have lost their jobs and people are really suffering, for us to be able to give a small raise to the deputies and to the civilian employees is good work," Bailey said.

The commissioners said there seemed to be enough money in the budget to warrant the raises.

Commissioner Scott Bias said there are a number of reasons why the deputies received higher raises than the civilian employees. The county has to compete with other counties and law enforcement agencies, such as the Huntington Police Department, who pay much more to their employees than what the deputies working in Cabell County are getting.

"A lot of our employees are underpaid but the deputies are farther underpaid," Bias said.

The reason the commission has money for pay raises is because of a pilot program that aims to cut jail costs by releasing nonviolent offenders before trial.

The pilot program, established by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, requires a full-time person to interview and perform background checks on all Cabell County arrests before trial. The individual reports back to a committee made up of representatives from law enforcement and court officials who will meet at least once a week.

The committee determines if certain non-violent offenders should be put in home confinement, work with the Day Report Center or housed at the Western Regional Jail in Barboursville. The committee makes its recommendations to designated circuit court and magistrate judges.

These judges decide if the offender should remain in jail or be released until trial. Commission approved the establishment of the program in November.

Since it was established in Cabell County, County Manager Stephen Zoeller said the county has saved $20,000 a month on jail costs.

Aside from pay raises, Zoeller said the commission also funded $13,000 for additional early-voting poll workers and $25,000 for overtime for deputies. The budget has been sent to the state auditor for final approval.