Accusations of favoritism heat up Putnam assessor race
CHARLESTON, W.Va. --- A meeting between candidates running for Putnam County assessor got lively Thursday when accusations of favoritism after the 2008 election were mentioned.
During a meeting with Gazette editors Thursday, D.W. "Peachie" Arthur, who served as Putnam's assessor from 1997 through 2008, accused incumbent Sherry Troyer Hayes of playing favorites with employees who supported her in the last election.
Hayes, a Republican, who worked under Arthur, a Democrat, during his tenure and about eight years prior, ousted him during the 2008 election by about 200 votes. Reports at the time described tension in the office while both ran for the position.
Arthur said Hayes, both of Hurricane, had given certain employees with the same skill sets higher pay raises than others.
"I don't show favoritism. I just gave good evaluations to everybody," Hayes said. "I treat everyone fair."
Hayes admitted that some pay raises might differ because different employees have more responsibilities than others.
"You can't pay everyone the same," she said.
If voted back into his old office, Arthur said, he'd provide more equal pay for employees, cut down on spending and be more available for taxpayers.
"Cellphones weren't needed; there are radios in the Jeeps," Arthur said, about phones Hayes purchased.
"The radios, we can't even use anymore. The static was so bad no one could hear each other," Hayes said. "I want to be able to get a hold [of employees] if something happens, they need to be able to call the office or 911 . . . the cellphones are a small expense."
Hayes touted updates she's made to the office by organizing and separating the personal property, real estate and mapping departments, which has allowed quicker service for taxpayers. She said she would continue to update equipment and has applied for grants for more technology.
Arthur said he is passionate about lobbying the Legislature to allow assessors to use the Kelley Blue Book values to assess car values. Currently, information from the National Automobile Dealers Association is used.
"They're more accurate and lower," he said.
Both candidates believe county commissioners should provide the assessor with information about payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements.
Recently, it was discovered that two Putnam companies that had PILOT agreements never started paying taxes after the agreements expired.
"We're at the mercy of [the commission]," Hayes said. "It'd be nice if we had a list when they came due."
"Where the County Commission went wrong was not letting the assessor in on [the PILOT agreements]," Arthur said.
Reach Kate White at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1723.