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Employees of elected Putnam officials get small raise

WINFIELD, W.Va. -- Putnam County commissioners have agreed to give a pay raise to the employees of elected county officials, although it will be less of a boost than usual.

Commissioners affirmed the employees' pay increase after evaluating their finances at the end of July.

The raises had been under consideration since March, when commissioners approved the budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year. A 1.25 percent raise would only be handed out after a review of the county's finances in July, they had said.

Putnam's fiscal year ended June 30 and account information had to be turned in to the state by July 30, according to county manager Brian Donat. Raises will be retroactive to the first full pay period in July.

"The payroll person is working on it," Donat said.

It's up to elected officials how they split the raises among employees, but most plan to give across-the-board increases.

"The commission has no control over how it's distributed," he said. "Ninety-nine percent of the time, they give them across the board."

Typically, employees are given a 2.5 percent raise. This fiscal year, because of little growth in the economy, commissioners cut the amount in half when they passed an $18.39 million budget in March that increased the county's levy rate by 0.3 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

Commissioners blamed the lower increase on the economy, but also a rising regional jail bill, for which they budgeted $300,000. County officials are studying ways to reduce that cost, Donat said.

The budget is about $400,000 more than what the county budgeted for last year.

"With how tight the budget was when we were working on it, we didn't feel we could afford to do a full 2.5 percent raise," Donat said. "We wanted to support employees as much as we could."

Outside agencies that the county provides funding to didn't receive any raises they requested. They won't, however, receive any less than they did last year.

To help curb financial problems from slow economic growth, the county downsized its tax-increment financing (TIF) district last year. A portion of a pool of money that helps pay for infrastructure projects was moved into the general budget.

"We probably did 100 different things to maximize revenue, but one was to downsize the TIF district to allow more funds to go into the general county fund, which is our operating budget," Donat said.

Putnam was the first county to request permission from the West Virginia Development Office to cut back its TIF area, which handles the TIF funds and approves projects for which the money can be used. The county's TIF district, which is mainly in Teays Valley, had a $4.2 million value, as of July 1, 2011.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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