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Commission approves $6.1 million budget

During its regular meeting on March 17, the Pocahontas County Commission approved a budget for fiscal year 2015-2016. The $6,110,101 budget includes estimated property tax revenue of $2,689,774 and a lowball estimate of $1 million in hotel/motel tax revenue. The full budget can be seen in the legal advertisement section of this edition of The Pocahontas Times.

The Commission is the fiscal agent for a trail improvement project coordinated by the Marlinton Ranger District of the Monongahela National Forest. The Commission is providing fiscal oversight but the project is being funded by a Federal Highway Administration Recreational Trails Grant of $24,000. Elk River Touring Center proprietor Gil Willis was instrumental in obtaining the grant money.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the Commission opened bids for trail improvement work in the Tea Creek area. Greatly diverging bids ranged from $157,125 to $21,500. Marlinton District employee Nicholas Brown reviewed the bids and advised the Commission that the low bidder, Burgess Resources, of Marlinton, was capable of doing the work. The Commission selected Burgess Resources to perform the work at a cost of $21,500.

Commissioner Bill Beard said he was pleased that a local contractor had submitted a bid.

“The main thing is hiring somebody local,” he said.

County resident Tom Bright was on the agenda to discuss a proposed county fire fee. In January, local fire chiefs told the Commission they were working on a proposal to institute a county-wide fire fee of $60 per residence and $100 per business. At that time, the firefighters were collecting signatures from 10 percent of the county’s qualified voters to present a petition to the Commission, as required by law.

Bright expressed his displeasure with the fire fee proposal.

“It’s really unfair to let 10 percent of the people make a decision for 100 percent of the county,” said Bright. “I think it would be more fair, if it would come to that, to put it to a vote and see what the people say.”

Beard explained that he understood that plans for a county-wide fee had been dropped.

Commission attorney Robert Martin advised the Commission that the fire fee would be placed on the ballot if 10 percent of county voters signed a petition to do so. However, state code section 7-17-12 states that the County Commission can pass a fire fee ordinance if it receives the petition, without a ballot issue. If 30 percent of county voters sign a petition to oppose the ordinance, a ballot issue is necessary to enact a fire fee ordinance.

In other business, the County Commission:
– Took no action on repair of a garage door at the Hanover Building;
– Heard an update from Day Report Center Director Tammie Alderman;
– Declared April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

The next regular meeting of the Pocahontas County Commission is scheduled for April 7 at 8:30 a.m.

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