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Putnam government wants more frequent budget updates

By Kara Moore

WINFIELD -- County agencies that receive funding from the Putnam County Commission will have to appear before the commission to give budget updates at least once a year going forward, commissioners decided Tuesday.

The commission allocates county tax revenue to five agencies not directly under the commission's control: the health department, the development authority, parks and recreation, the library and community corrections.

Commissioner Steve Andes proposed asking for financial reports quarterly and asking a representative to come to a commission meeting semi-annually to make a presentation and answer questions.

"I don't see it putting an undue burden on them," Commission President Joe Haynes said.

Each agency presents its board with regular budget updates already, and one commissioner is already a member of each board.

"Every agency should be preparing those budget documents as they go through the year anyway," County Manager Brian Donat said.

In other news, the county plans to donate a retired vehicle from the sheriff's fleet to the Poca Police Department.

Poca Police Chief William Seanze appeared before the commission to ask for permission to acquire a specific vehicle, and the commission resolved to donate it pending review to ensure the vehicle in question would have otherwise been put up for auction.

Commissioners also resolved to update an application for a Small Cities Block Grant from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Authority to pay for a water line extension at Manila Ridge.

The county applied for the $1.5 million grant last year but had to pull its application after West Virginia American Water decommitted $200,000 from the project.

This year that $200,000 will come from a no-interest loan from the state infrastructure council. The county has already paid $76,000 in engineering costs for the project.

Commissioners met for one hour in an executive session with F.L. Smidth, which recently bought out Ludowici Limited, a manufacturer of mining equipment, regarding a possible PILOT agreement.

Ludowici relocated from Chapmanville to Putnam Business Park last year with the understanding it would be able to negotiate a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, agreement with the county.

In these agreements, companies are exempt from some taxes as an incentive for bringing jobs to a county. In this case, the company expects to employ about 70 workers at an average of about $20 per hour in Putnam County when construction on their new facility is complete.

The executive session was a status report from the company on construction. They have not yet asked for or been given a PILOT agreement. The Putnam County Commission will meet briefly at 8:30 a.m. this coming Tuesday to lay the levy rates for the upcoming fiscal year. The commission's next regular meeting will be 9 a.m. April 23 at the county courthouse in Winfield. All meetings are open to the public.


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