Pocahontas County Commission Reduces Future Contributions to Organizations by Half.
At the June 6th Pocahontas County Commission Meeting, Commissioner John Rebinski proposed that starting in the new fiscal year on July 1, 2023, the commission should reduce the amount of money it budgets to contribute to non-profit organizations from the present $50,000 to $25,000 per year.
Commissioner Jamie Walker said he would not vote for that unless the maximum amount contributed to any one group is also reduced, because otherwise only half of the organizations that are now funded would be funded next year. Rebinski agreed and made a motion to reduce the total annual contributions by the commission to $25,000 and that the maximum any one organization can receive be reduced from the current $5000 to $2500.
That motion passed unanimously.
Additionally at the meeting, Cindy Wilfong of the County Health Department informed the commissioners that they just recently learned that the state DHHR’s General Sanitation Rule requires that short-term rental units, such as AirBNB and Vrbo rentals are required to obtain a health permit, which requires they be inspected by the local health department annually and pay an annual fee of $125.00. She said they have been inspecting only long-term rentals -235 Hotels, Motels and B&Bs in the county, but will now need to hire two additional certified Sanitarians to also inspect the 1000 to 1,500 AirBNBs and Vrbos in the county. Each of these will have to be inspected for sanitation and charged the $125.00 permit fee annually.
Commission President Walt Helmick said he considers that fee to be an additional tax, however Wilfong said it is a state mandated fee, not a tax. Helmick said he wants to make it clear that this is not imposed by the commission, but by the Health Department.
Commissioner Rebinski pointed out that last year the commission reduced its annual funding of the local Health Department from $33,000 to $27,000, and then he told Wilfong the following:
“I just wanted to give you a heads up,” Rebinski told Wilfong, “…it is already budgeted for this year, but in the future, I wouldn’t hold too close to that money -to that $27,000.”
Wilfong said “Are you looking at cutting us completely out?” to which Rebinski replied “That’s going to be my proposal.”
Helmick added that the commission has provided the Health Department a free office in the courthouse for years, but they need to start looking for an office of their own, because their space in the courthouse will be needed for storage. He noted that the Health Department has a reserve fund which can finance them to operate for almost two years.
Additionally at the meeting, 911 Director Mike O’Brien told the commissioners that the 911 Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD))- system and their Records Management System need an annual maintenance agreement which costs $32,232.82. The commission passed a motion by Rebinski to transfer that money from the General Fund to pay for this. Helmick said the money for this is available in the general fund because recently more than $300,000.00 of ARP funds were transferred into the General Fund.
Also, the commissioners:
- Approved a Memorandum of Understanding (or MOU) between the county Emergency Management and Cass State Park, for the installation of a camera at the park to monitor the Greenbrier River levels and give advance warning downstream of any pending flooding.
- Wrote a letter of support for the Town of Marlinton’s Sidewalk Project Grant application.
- Approved and provided a resolution in support of the $51,000 Community Corrections Grant Award.
- Rescheduled their regular June 20th meeting to Tuesday June 27th because of the West Virginia Day holiday, and they moved their July 4th meeting to Wednesday. July 5th.
- They certified the delinquent real estate and property tax lists.
- Approved end of year Budget Revisions and Resolutions.
- Authorized an MOU with WYK Associates, the Architect Firm for the EMS/911 Building Project.
- Approved a lease agreement with the WV Department of Transportation for the Green Box site at Green Bank.
- Approved the release of settlements with Kroger; Amneal; and Mylan pharmaceutical companies, although the settlement amounts remain confidential.