W. Va. Commission and Sheriff Still at Odds Over Bills

The Register-Herald, Beckley, W. Va.

She said she had approached the state auditor's office for advice about the possibility of the county securing a line of credit and borrowing funds to pay its bills.

"We're not allowed to get a line of credit, according to the auditor," Crookshanks reported.

Although funds are tight, the county will be able to pay its bills this month, she predicted. The coal severance fund contains around $179,000 at this point, and another $100,000 in property tax revenue was paid in June -- half of what was received during that month last year, Crookshanks noted.

The commission has asked all elected officials to avoid any unnecessary expenditures until property tax collections pick back up.

Crookshanks pointed out that the budget is set based in large part on tax revenue projections provided by the county's assessor, while collections fall under the sheriff's purview.

Also, representatives of the Clintonville Volunteer Fire Department appealed to the commission for help in paying a sharp rise in workers' compensation premiums that all of the county's fire companies are starting to see.

The Clintonville unit needs to come up with $8,000 by mid-August or it will be in danger of closing, as are other rural fire departments, according to the information provided.

Crookshanks suggested the firefighters check with the risk pool that provides county government agencies with insurance coverage and ask the state's insurance commissioner for assistance.

"We can't do anything until the lawsuit's settled," she told the Clintonville delegation, referring to a suit filed by the sheriff challenging budget cuts for his department.

Commissioner Karen Lobban expressed a willingness to help with fundraising events for the small, local fire departments that are being caught in the workers' comp crunch.

-- E-mail: talvey@register-herald.com

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