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County assessor adjusts employees’ salaries

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Eight employees of newly elected Kanawha County Assessor Sallie Robinson will get raises while two will see significant pay cuts.   

Salary adjustments related to the office reorganization will be effective Feb. 1 and will be reflected on Feb. 15 paychecks.

Former Chief Deputy Assessor Steve Duffield's salary will be reduced from $81,348 to $65,000 a year, a 20 percent cut, according to figures provided by Robinson.

Duffield will now serve as supervisor of the commercial reappraisal division, Robinson said. She said the move is not a demotion but a result of the reorganization.

Duffield seemed accepting.

"I don't know if I consider this a demotion," he said. "She has determined that the value of my contribution is worth the salary that she has decided to pay me."

Duffield, a 28-year employee in the office, said he intends to stick with the position and not resign despite the reduction in salary.

"The reality is we have a newly elected assessor and her responsibility is to look at her budget and determine the value of my contribution to the office," he added.

Robinson has said that the move was intended to lessen the workload on her department heads.

"I think this is a more efficient way of doing things, and this has taken some of the stress off him," Robinson said.

Duffield declined to say whether his former position was too stressful.

"She felt that the job I had was too involved and there were too many responsibilities for one person," he said.

However, Duffield said the move would allow him to concentrate on one type of appraisal instead of multiple ones.

 Harry Berger, the head of the mapping division, will see a reduction from $85,999 a year to $65,000 even though his responsibilities will remain the same. That's a 24 percent cut.  

Another staff member will receive a 50 percent raise.

Janet Burke was recently hired as an administrative assistant at an annual salary of $36,000. She was promoted to the position of director of operations, real estate reappraisal and mapping with a salary of $54,000.

Burke was a member of Robinson's campaign. However, Robinson said Burke's services on the campaign had nothing to do with the promotion or raise.

"About 90 percent of the office campaigned for me," said Robinson, who was former Assessor Phyllis Gatson's longtime assistant.  

Burke has about 15 years of experience in the assessor's office, Robinson said. She left the office for about two years but was recently rehired by Robinson.

"Phyllis was getting ready to rehire her before I even decided I was going to run for office," Robinson said.

However, while Gatson was still in office, Steve Sluss, the part-time general counsel for the office, opted to become a full-time employee. That eliminated an open slot and prevented Gatson from hiring Burke, Robinson said.

Robinson pointed out that Sluss also campaigned for her and his salary was not increased. He makes $81,098 a year, according to figures provided by the county clerk's office.

The salary of Susan Atkins, supervisor of residential property reassessment, will go from $42,600 to $46,000.

Frank King will now supervise field appraisers. His annual salary was increased from $28,000 to $42,000.

Sheri Moore, supervisor of the personal property division, will go from $50,584 to $54,000.

Merla Prowse was promoted to office manager, and her salary will increase from $35,500 to $40,000. Prowse will also assume dog licensing duties.  

Sheri Kinder was promoted from receptionist to administrative assistant, and her salary will increase from $24,016 to $30,000.

Tammy Rakes, supervisor of the business division, will go from $47,320 to $54,000.

Valerie Taylor, an administrative assistant, will now also be in charge of personnel records, and her salary will rise from $25,000 to $30,000 a year.

The changes will make department heads' salaries more comparable, Robinson said.

More employees may see salary increases in the coming days, she said. Robinson added that some make less than $25,000 per year.

"I plan to bring those employees up to at least $25,000 a year," she said.

Even with the raises, Robinson has managed to save about $60,000 in her salary budget, she said. This has come with the reorganization and the fact that she is not hiring anyone to take her former position of administrative assistant.

Robinson's former salary was about $61,000 a year.  

As assessor she will draw a base salary of $44,880 and commission of about $15,000 a year if her office meets several standards set forth in state code. She also receives 10 percent commission on county dog tax collections.           

Contact writer Paul Fallon at or 304-348-4817. Follow him at ;  


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