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One of the foremost issues on the minds of county commissions is dealing with the cost of incarceration of inmates. As substance abuse grows, the number of arrests keeps rising and county budgets suffer.

CCAWV has explored numerous ideas and methods for easing the county burden and to this end we are partnering with the WV Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority on a new effort.

April is National County Government Month and to help celebrate, CCAWV is hosting our 3rd annual County Government Essay Contest.

This contest is open to all 8th grade students in West Virginia and the 1st place winner and sponsoring teacher will receive a $300.00 cash award each.

We have worked in unison with the WV Department of Education to disseminate the information and contest guidelines to all 8th grade teachers, but we need your help as well!

Back during Christmas and New Year holidays, there were questions about “if and when” the county commission can close the courthouse and/or give employees additional time off without charge to annual leave. Pages 1-12 through 1-13 of the CCAWV handbook address this issue under “Offices and Courthouse Hours.” In short…While the County

Commission has the authority to prescribe the hours of the courthouse operation and such authority implies the ability to close the county offices in weather or emergency situations, it cannot close the “COURT!”

One more and the 2013 regional legislative meetings for CCAWV will be completed. We've had some lively debates at the meetings as well as several requests for a second regional jail summit this spring where commissioners can share and update each other on methods for pursuing jail cost savings. The Association will set a date for it following the 2014 legislative session.

The issue of county officials' salaries was discussed at the November legislative interims and a draft bill was presented by the committee staff. The bill was completely new to CCAWV, with no prior discussions or input from our membership. It would reduce county classifications from 10 down to 5 and impose an approximate 12% pay raise for all offices. The bill does incorporate the CCAWV idea from last year, to allow for small incremental increases (3%) every two years going forward from 2016, however the raise would be automatic instead of at the discretion of the commission. Committee members will vote Dec. 9th on whether or not to recommend the draft to the entire legislature.

The CCAWV position on county official salary increases (as determined by the entire membership) is not to support increasing salaries in 2014 due to current economic conditions in the U.S., the State, and in individual counties. Some of the other elected county officials disagree with this stance and have pooled their individual association resources to hire a lobbyist to seek a 20% salary hike, disregarding the county commissioners' position. Still, it is the responsibility of the office of county commissioner to pursue sound fiscal policy to the best of our ability, including paying the increasing costs of incarcerating inmates from the counties' limited resources. While we are pleased that many legislators seem to like the idea of small incremental increases and hope to work with them on this approach for a future increase mechanism, CCAWV remains opposed to pay raises in 2014.

The CCAWV Annual meeting was well attended and received high marks from those attending. We worked hard, lots of valuable information was shared, and we enjoyed some nice after hours events. Much thanks to our host county, the Lewis County Commission and Staff for their major efforts to our success. Congrats to all our award winners! The August Legislative Interims included financial reporting from the Regional Jail Authority Director Joe Delong, the same report that was shared at the CCAWV Annual meeting.

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