Commissioners look ahead to 2021
The five-member governing body will see two new members as Tricia Jackson and Steve Stolipher begin their six-year terms on the commission. Continuing to serve are Josh Compton, Jane Tabb and Caleb Hudson.
When asked this week what their main focus will be for the coming year, four of the five members responded with the budget for the county and funding for essential services such as fire, emergency services and police as a top priority. Hudson did not respond.
Funding public safety, in the past, and currently, is a top priority for government leaders.
“It would be nice to see the West Virginia Legislature explore bills that would allow us to utilize impact fees for the purchase of more fire/police/ambulance apparatus versus what we currently can,” Compton said, mentioning that, currently, only a portion of fire and police fees can be allocated for such vehicle expenses.
Impact fee funding also comes to the county for schools, which is diverted directly to the board of education and parks and recreation in addition to fire and police.
“The impact fee report [that was recently presented to the county] needs to be reviewed by all commissioners and questions need to be answered either by staff or the consultant,” Tabb said.
“The county needs to have a serious look at how we approve hundreds of thousands of dollars related to yearly salary adjustments when we hear year after year we need more public safety positions,” Compton said, mentioning the topic will be a hard subject for discussion.
“I have a hard time explaining to taxpayers we need this amount of money for new positions but we have approved (not me, every year) salary adjustments in large scale in years’ past that could have funded a number of positions,” Compton said.
According to Compton, his thoughts reinforce another of his top priorities — it is necessary to keep taxes low for residents and use their tax dollars in a more efficient and proper way.
Challenges from the past year in dealing with COVID-19 will have commissioners taking a close look at how federal funds were allocated and how to move forward should additional federal funding not be forthcoming.
“The budget will be a challenge due to impacts from COVID,” Tabb said. “And it looks like no funding from the feds for counties at this time.”
Efficiency was a key term used by several commissioners, much of the time in conjunction with budget spending, though not all having to do with dollars.
“I believe we can work smarter, not harder,” Stolipher said.
Jackson voiced her agreement with Stolipher.
“Our government needs to work better at providing services to the residents through streamlining or consolidation,” Jackson said.