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Mingo County Commissioners make drastic budget cuts, including jobs

(WSAZ)
Published: Aug. 25, 2016 at 2:31 PM EDT
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MINGO COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Mingo County Commission on Thursday approved nearly $160,000 in budget cuts, with commissioners saying it's not just their county -- but the entire state of West Virginia -- that's in crisis.

Commissioners met Thursday morning to decide what county services to cut because of declining coal and property taxes.

The Commission met in special session Thursday, as well as Monday, to consider the cuts.

Those include cancelling county parking, parking county vehicles, not allowing the Sheriff's Department to take cruisers home for 30 days, eliminating the Fiduciary Supervisor and Recreation Director positions as of Sept. 1, and reducing both maintenance positions from full time to part time and reassigning Court Marshals.

Commissioner Greg Hootie Smith says unfortunately the county is in a long dark tunnel with no light in sight.

"I believe we've been in this tunnel for approximately four to five years, and I do not believe we are at the end of the tunnel, but we are all optimistic," Smith said. "We all have our strong faith."

In the last two years, the commission has laid off 20 people. The only three options at this point are to reduce salaries, reduce positions or raise taxes. Smith says the people of Mingo County are already carrying a burden and don't need to be further burdened with additional taxes.

If tax collections don't improve within the next months, commissioners will visit the budget again and make additional cuts. The Mingo County operating budget in 2014 was about $9 million. Currently it's $6 million.

In 2012, Mingo County received $1.8 million in coal severance taxes. This year, it was about $600,000.