CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County elected officials formally presented their budget proposals for the next fiscal year to the county commissioners Thursday night.
Commissioners are in charge of divvying up the county's estimated $51 million budget among county departments and five offices headed by other elected officials -- the circuit clerk's office, the assessor's office, the county clerk's office, the prosecutor's office and the sheriff's office.
The discussion was part of the commission's budget planning for the fiscal year, which starts in July.
Finance Director Kim Fleck said the upcoming budget remains largely the same as the current one.
Fleck said the county is expecting a revenue increase of $400,000 next year, but will also absord a $700,000 increase in employee health care costs, though that amount will be built into the budget.
The county also has about $7 million in its stabilization, or "rainy day" fund, and may have to use some of that money until fall tax collections.
Fleck also said the county has saved money in jail costs and retirement contributions over the past year.
"The ultimate goal is for the commission to have a true balanced budget," she said.
County elected officials generally asked for small budget increases, particularly in capital overlay costs, which generally refer to purchases of tangible items for the departments.
The commission is not obligated to fulfill all requests.
* County Assessor Sally Robinson's proposed budget remained nearly the same as the current year, with no capital overlay requests.
* Circuit Clerk Cathy Gatson asked for $60,000 in capital overlay for scanning equipment and temporary employees
* County Clerk Vera McCormick asked for $25,000 in capital expenditures and a two percent pay increase for employees
* Prosecutor Mark Plants asked for $8,000 in capital overlay for new computers.
While the commissioners had little discussion for most requests, Sheriff John Rutherford's $400,000 request for deputy pay raises raised commissioners eyebrows.
Rutherford said civilian employees who made less than $25,000 annually received raises last year to bring their pay to at least $25,000. Other employees, including deputies, didn't receive a raise.
"One part of the team that got left out this year is the deputies," Rutherford said.
The sheriff told commissioners that though pay at the sheriff's office is comparable to neighboring communities, pay raises are needed to be able to compete with those communities.
Rutherford also said pay raises are necessary because the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office is so much different than other law enforcement entities, as it covers a large area with varying types of communities.
However, commissioners weren't sure whether the county could afford such raises as requested.
"I think your numbers make sense, I don't want to see us go back to where we were 10 years ago," Commission President Kent Carper said. "We've just got to see how much money we have."
No formal action was taken.
In other business, the commission:
* Received an update on the county's efforts to collect delinquent property taxes.
Chief Tax Deputy Allen Bleigh said so far, the county has filed eight lawsuits and collected about $17,000 in delinquent tax revenue.
The total amount of delinquent taxes is estimated about $10.6 million, Bleigh said.
Commissioners said they wanted another update on the issue in about a month.
* Voted to spend up to $6,000 to repair the roof at the Rand Community Center. The roof was leaking over the food preparation area and was generally in disrepair, Rand Community Association representatives said.