After weeks of consideration, Carter County fiscal court took action on county attorney Brian Bayes' request for additional funds during their regular meeting Monday morning.
Bayes had asked the court for an increase of funding back in early August, from $5,000 for the county share to $50,000. Bayes explained at the time that this was still significantly less than most other counties provided, but that he wasn't able to retain qualified assistants with state funding alone.
Bayes noted at the time that he wasn't asking for a raise for himself, and that assistant attorneys Jason Greer and Justin Criswell had already accepted pay cuts so they could fund the payroll costs for paralegals and child support personell. However, Bayes noted, he couldn't retain help because, no matter how much those hired enjoyed the work they did, the wages he paid weren't competitive or adequate.
While the court didn't provide Bayes with the entire amount he asked for, they did give him half.
The court approved a motion to increase the line item for the attorney's office by $20,000, from $5,000 to $25,000. They told Bayes they would discuss further increases to his department as, and if, more funding became available.
Magistrate Mark Miller abstained from the vote.
The court also moved to change the pay status of Carter County Dog Warden Ronald Woody Maddix from salary employee to hourly employee at a rate of $14.50 per hour. Maddix has been working several hours of uncompensated overtime each week since the county seized animals in the Kevin McCaffery case, working up to 60 hours per week in the early stages of the case. However he hasn't been able to collect overtime pay on any of those hours, and he isn't able to take the time "in kind" as time-off since his duties currently require him to work at least a couple of hours every day of the week to check in on animals. He said that isn't likely to change as the county moves toward opening their own shelter and he has to do additional work around that project. He does, however, expect his schedule to become more manageable in the future, as the McCaffery case moves forward and the animal shelter opens.
After returning from executive session the court moved to change Maddix's status from salary to hourly, and to set his pay rate.
During his department report Maddix also told the court that veterinary bills for animals seized in the McCaffery case are now in excess of $20,000. The county did receive a grant for assistance with those costs from the Humane Society of the Unite States, in the amount of $5,000, but that is just a fraction of the total costs. His actions with the animals seized in this case, including finding alternate lodging and pursuing grant opportunities, has, however, saved the county an estimated $45,000 in costs according to his report.
Maddix also reported that things were progressing as planned with the animal shelter. Maddix said they are ready to begin pouring concrete at the location.
In other action, the court heard from East Carter High School student Christopher Prince and Shelly Steiner, Program Director of the Carter County Drug Free Coalition, about their recent trip to Washington D.C. where they met with President Donald Trump to discuss the regions drug problems and strategies for addressing them. The group also heard from Carl Burton, of the Friends of Tygart Creek, about his group's plans to organize a creek cleanup the weekend of October 5 and 6.
Rick Loperfido, with FIVCO, also asked the county to consider sponsoring the Norton Branch Fire Department for a $500,000 Civic Development Block Grant (CDBG) to cover the costs of a new fire building. Loperfido said they are currently putting together surveys of the area that the department responds within, and that if they were able to secure grants for the department, construction would probably begin next fall.
"It's not an overnight process," Loperfido said.
The court voted unanimously to approve sponsoring the grant.
The court also moved to approve treasurer's report, claims, and transfers, and entered into the first reading of an amended Administrative Code.
The judge executive and county attorney also signed a contract with the Carter County Public Library after language that made the contract perpetual was removed from the funding agreement.
They also heard from E911 Joe Lambert on planned implementation of a new CAD system that was approved during a previous meeting.
During the Sheriff's report, Sheriff Jeff May reported to the court that the office served 190 processes during the month of August, out of 238 process attempts, served 73 warrants, made 81 arrest, worked 25 accidents, 43 traffic stops, 12 domestic calls, opened 8 cases, closed 1, issued 89 citations, responded to 10 alarms, provided 6 assists, took 485 complaints, had 11 EMS assists, and 26 transports. This was in addition to 243 prisoner transports and 193 inspections.
"August was a busy month," May said, adding that he still needed to add two deputies.
The court also discussed allowing the high school skeet shooting team to use property on the old Grahn landfill, dealing with dillapidated housing, claycrete application to roads, and the possibility of adding a $10 fee to dump wastes during county cleanup days.