By Stephen Smoot
Last week, the Harrison County Commission held its regular meeting at 11 AM. Commissioner Patsy Trecost led off the meeting with a prayer, asking a blessing on the body and its work “with your light shining through us . . . as You are an example for all of us.”
Commissioners then led the room in the Pledge of Allegiance and commenced its official business for the day.
In the initial minutes of the meeting, commissioners voted to approve the payment of requisitions, purchase orders, and invoices. Commissioner David Hinkle posed a question concerning fire tax assessments against the county. He said “we’re paying Clarksburg fire tax” and asked if “staff to look into if we’re paying fire tax for any city we’re in.”
Hinkle said he was “all right” with supporting emergency services, but questioned why a government entity had to pay a tax. Susan Thomas, Harrison County Commission president, noted that churches had faced assessment for the tax as well.
Typically churches, as 501 © 3 non profits, do not pay taxes.
Hinkle said “we’re getting hit both ways. That doesn’t sit with me.” He referred to support voluntarily paid by the county in addition to assessed fire taxes.
Commissioners then went into a 19 minute long executive session to discuss line item number six, an “option to purchase property on Meadowbrook Road. Upon its closure, the commission voted to do so.
Later in the meeting, Thomas exclaimed “I’m excited about number six, to get it started.” Hinkle agreed, saying “we’re going to see some exciting things.”
The purchase will kick off a partnership with the City of Bridgeport and Thrasher Group.
On the Sunday and Monday prior to the meeting, offices in the new General Services building experienced a failure of the heating system during the most frigid temperatures so far this winter. Laura Pysz-Laulis, Harrison County administrator, said the heating issues were addressed and that she should receive an update soon.
Hinkle later said of the mechanical malfunction that “I want to apologize for what the offices and the employees had to go through . . . they’ve been troopers.”
He added that “we’re trying to make it right,” then praised Pysz-Laulis and the staff for “doing a good job trying to rectify it.”
Gina Jones, Director of Grants and Special Projects for the Harrison County Day Report Center, next brought forward two resolutions to enable her office to pursue funding for programs. The first resolution is “authorizing the application for funds from the FY 2024 West Virginia Community Corrections Fund for the Harrison County Community Corrections Program”
The resolution allows Jones to pursue funds “not to exceed $200,000” and places Thomas in administrative oversight “and to provide all additional information required by the State government.”
She also requested a resolution to authorize her pursuit of an $80,000 grant from the West Virginia Justice Reinvestment Initiative Treatment Supervision Grant Program.
In other business, the commission appointed Michael Sieber to return to the Bingamon Public Service District Board. It also set dates and times for the Board of Review and Equalization to meet.
These are currently scheduled as meeting on Jan 31 at 11 AM, Feb 5 at 10 AM, Feb 7 at 2 PM (this includes oil and gas), Feb 12 at 12 PM, Feb 14 at 11 AM, Feb 20 at 12 PM, and will adjourn sine die on Feb 23 at 10 AM.
This body reviews petitions concerning potentially mistaken assessments on property for tax purposes.