Braxton Citizens' News, Opinion

Chaos prevails…

This year’s legislative session has concluded and as predicted didn’t go really well. I have read several articles after coming to work this morning, but with deadlines looming, I had to cut it short. One thing was common… the final minutes were chaotic to say the least. Brent Boggs’ column on this page gives some details, but he agrees that it may be sometime before we actually sort through the material to see exactly what was done.

Also predictable… there is already talk of a special session later in the year much of which will undoubted be to fix what was screwed up in the final hours.

Apparently, it was worse in the Senate than the House but whether they like it or not the leadership of both branches apparently deserving a failing grade in a number of areas.

I read Sunday’s Gazette but there was little in the way of hard facts that could be determined and still meet their deadlines for puting out their paper. One article I did find very interesting. A bill that was adopted by the Senate on the second day of the session passed the House on Friday. It will give elected officials a 10% pay hike. I was amazed that nothing was said about the bill, but that is certainly not a new approach regarding such matters. These bills are nearly aways kept on the “Q-T” with as little fanfare as possible. Its our taxpayer dollars at work. The lobbying organizations of all these elected officials, Commissioners Association, WV Association of Counties, Clerks Associations etc. all pay dues with taxpayer dollars and this is what the citizens get for their money.

In our county that will result in over $50,000, taken from the general fund and placed directly into the pockets of elected officials. All of which, can deny responsibility for the action. The Sheriff’s basic salary will go to $55,166 plus the automatic commissions he receives for tax collection. The County and Circuit Clerks will be making $65,863. The Assessor will go to $55,166, while the Prosecuting Attorney will be paid $110,880. Let’s not leave out our County Commissioners they will each be making $43,096 for their part-time work… over a $4,000 raise. Don’t forget, this is on top of a very lucrative benefit package; over 2 weeks of paid holidays, sick time, vacation, retirement etc.

Now I’m not opposed to pay raises in general. We all deserve to make a decent living. I just don’t like it being done in a deceiving manner and this is another prime example.

There are provisions that says if the county can’t afford the pay raises, they will not go into effect. However, the reality is that will not happen here, particularly with all the COVID money floating around. My concern is the long-term sustainability of the measure. Will these pay raises be a hardship on the county in years to come? Only time will tell…