The Commission approved the fiscal year 2023-24 budget as presented by County Manager Jeremy Young at its March 28 meeting. The $23.2 million budget represents an increase of $1.8 million over that of the current fiscal year. Over half, $13.4 million, will be funded by property tax collections. All Putnam taxpayers will see increases because all levy rates were increased by 5.3%. The increase is actually a return to the rates that were in effect prior to the pandemic. Young stated that Putnam’s levy rates are below 80% of West Virginia’s 55 counties.
The projected increased tax collections, coupled with other revenue and budget adjustments, will fund 5% pay increases for most county employees. Young said that employees face an increase in PEIA but the increase will be minimal as the county will continue to pay 85% of the cost. Young advised the Commission that future budgets would be strained by increased Regional Jail bills and an annual $582,000 debt service payment for the new Sheriff’s facility.
The budget was good news for Putnam municipalities as the Commission found the dollars necessary to fund $18,400 for a walkway at the City of Winfield’s Community Center, $24,800 for a pickelball court at the Buffalo Senior Center, $19,254 improvements to Bancroft’s recreational facilities, $19,646 in improvements and upgrades at the Eleanor Town Park and at the pool and shelters, and $37,383 in playground equipment in Poca. The Putnam County Fair Board received $9,677 to make repairs to the livestock barn. A portion of Hotel/Motel Tax collections is devoted funding recreation projects in all municipalities except Hurricane. The City of Hurricane collects and utilizes all Hotel/Motel Tax collections within city limits.
Close to thirty residents from the Liberty area were in attendance. They came to receive an in-person update on Phase II of the Jim Ridge Waterline Extension Project. Jim Nagy of Terradon Corporation and Terry Martin of the Regional Intergovernmental Council explained why the project had been delayed and informed the audience why they could expect to see dirt begin to fly before August 1st. Martin said that the project should not be delayed by higher than estimated construction cost because an additional $755,000 has been obtained in anticipation of bids coming in above original estimates. Bid opening is slated for April 25 with a contract being awarded by June 1st. The project is expected to be completed this year but has a standard 9-month completion requirement. The 52,000-foot extension will bring water service to almost 70 customers.
Martin also announced that RIC has made application for Critical Needs funding to bring water service to Deerfield Estates. Martin hopes to receive approval on Wednesday, April 5.
The next meeting of the Putnam County Commission is scheduled for Tuesday, April 11.