West Virginia

Arguments over Berkeley County's 2018 budget

The council wants to cut positions, the sheriff wants more deputies

BERKELEY COUNTY, W. Va. - The Berkeley County Council presented a tentative budget to elected officials and department heads on March 8.

After explaining that the council planned to cut two, unfilled deputy positions, a heated discussion began between the chief deputy and county council president.

"We're just trying to make things better and now you're taking that away from us and you're not even giving us the consideration of the step raise plan like you promised," said Scott Wilson, Chief Deputy.

County Council President Doug Copenhaver says the step raise plan presented earlier in the year was not feasible.

"The step raise [means] that we're going to guarantee someone an increase in pay every year. No one in the county is guaranteed that," said Copenhaver.

The county council's proposal would put about $113,000 into the sheriff's budget.
"We took away two positions but we did not take any funding so that money could be used for pay increases at their discretion," explained Copenhaver.

Although that amount is roughly a $1,000 pay raise per deputy per year, Sheriff Curtis Keller says he's more concerned for the safety of his deputies and county residents if there are less men and women on the force.

"If one of my deputies gets killed because I don't have enough to protect them, you're responsible," warned Keller to Copenhaver and the council meeting.

The sheriff's department said they are not making any official statements right now, and the budget will be finalized at a later date.

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