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Brooke commissioners approve budget

WELLSBURG — The Brooke County Commission has approved a $10 million budget for the 2020 fiscal year while noting it may need to revise it if the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to impact tax revenue.

Commission President Tim Ennis said the state auditor’s office has encouraged county commissions to submit their budgets by the March 31 deadline while advising they also may amend them as the new fiscal year approaches.

Ennis and fellow commissioners Stacey Wise and A.J. Thomas said they will know better in the weeks ahead how much lost revenue from temporarily closed businesses will affect the commission’s operations.

Currently the budget amounts to an increase of $1.1 million from last year, reflecting an increase in assessed property values and an across the board raise of $1.50 per hour for full- and part-time county employees, among other factors.

Ennis said the commission has budgeted for a 10 percent increase in healthcare costs for employees, though it could fall short of that.

The budget also includes more than $1 million for upgrades to the county’s emergency 911 center and $25,000 for maintenance of the Brooke County Pioneer Trail, which had been performed by volunteers who may not be available in the future.

Among them was Bob Fowler who, before retiring last year as the county’s emergency management director, had provided many hours of his time and equipment to cutting brush and grass along the trail.

One area in which the commission will see a decrease is accommodations for the county’s magistrate court.

Since the court has been returned to the first floor of the county courthouse, the county will no longer pay $1,760 per month in rent for space at the former Progressive Bank building.

Thomas said instead the county will receive rent from the state because the magistrate court is a state agency, though the amount hasn’t been determined.

He said the county didn’t receive reimbursement from the state for its rental of the bank building space because it didn’t own it.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)

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