At the June 6 Pocahontas County Commission meeting, Commissioner John Rebinski proposed that, starting in the new fiscal year on July 1, 2023, the commission should reduce the amount of money it budgets to contribute to non-profit organizations from the present $50,000 to $25,000 per year.
Rebinski made a motion to reduce the total annual contributions to $25,000 and that the maximum any one organization can receive be reduced from the current $5,000 to $2,500.
The motion passed unanimously.
Cindy Wilfong, appearing on behalf of the County Health Department, informed the commission that they just recently learned that the state DHHR General Sanitation Rule requires that short-term rental units, such as AirBNB and Vrbo rentals, are required to obtain a health permit, which requires they be inspected annually by the local health department and are required to pay an annual fee of $125. She said they have been inspecting only long-term rentals – hotels, motels and B&Bs – in the county, but will now need to hire two additional certified sanitarians to inspect the 1,000 to 1,500 AirBNBs and Vrbos in the county.
Commission President Walt Helmick said he considers that fee to be an additional tax, however Wilfong said it is a state mandated fee, not a tax. Helmick said he wants to make it clear that this is not imposed by the commission, but by the Health Department.
Rebinski pointed out that last year the commission reduced its annual funding for the local Health Department from $33,000 to $27,000.
“I just wanted to give you a heads up,” Rebinski told Wilfong, “….it is already budgeted for this year, but in the future, I wouldn’t hold too close to that money – to that $27,000.”
“Are you looking at cutting us completely out?” Wilfong asked.
“That’s going to be my proposal,” Rebinski replied.
Helmick added that the commission has provided the Health Department a free office in the courthouse for years, but they need to start looking for an office of their own, because their space in the courthouse will be needed for storage. He noted that the Health Department has a reserve fund which can finance them to operate for almost two years.
In other matters, 911 Director Mike O’Brien told the commission that the 911 Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) system and their Records Management System need an annual maintenance agreement which costs $32,232.82. The commission passed a motion by Rebinski to transfer that money from the general fund to pay for this. Helmick said the money for this is available in the general fund because recently more than $300,000 of ARP (American Rescue Plan) funds were transferred into the account.
In addition, the commission:
• Approved a Memorandum of Understanding (or MOU) between the county Emergency Management and Cass State Park, for the installation of a camera at the park to monitor the Greenbrier River levels and give advance warning downstream of any pending flooding.
• Wrote a letter of support for the Town of Marlinton’s Sidewalk Project Grant application.
• Approved and provided a resolution in support of the $51,000 Community Corrections Grant Award.
• Rescheduled their regular June 20 meeting to Tuesday, June 27, because of the West Virginia Day holiday, and moved their July 4 meeting to Wednesday, July 5.
• Certified the delinquent real estate and property tax lists.
• Approved end of year Budget Revisions and Resolutions.
• Authorized an MOU with WYK Associates, the Architect Firm for the EMS/911 Building Project.
• Approved a lease agreement with the WV Department of Transportation for the Green Box site at Green Bank.
• Approved the release of settlements with Kroger; Amneal; and Mylan pharmaceutical companies, although the settlement amounts remain confidential.