Hancock Commission learns budget will be slightly higher

NEW CUMBERLAND – Hancock County’s projected budget for fiscal year 2014 will be slightly higher than anticipated on the revenue side.

Hancock County commissioners learned Thursday that a carryover balance of $15,486 from the coal severance tax will add to their original projection of $30,000. That will give them more money to spend on postage, which is what Hancock County uses the coal severance tax for, said Cindy Jones, county administrative assistant for finance.

Commissioners submitted their original budget to Charleston in March, but counties have until July 30 to make revisions based on how they ended the fiscal year. In West Virginia, the fiscal year begins on July 1 and ends on June 30.

For fiscal year 2014, commissioners originally projected a general fund budget of $1 million. That now will be $1,198,194 based on the carryover balance from fiscal year 2013, Jones said.

The county’s overall operating budget for the new fiscal year will be $10.1 million, up from the $9.9 million budget submitted in March, Jones said.

Commissioners are anticipating a drop in revenue from table gaming, slot machines and limited video lottery and are having to adjust their budget accordingly. The 2014 projection for the 6 percent hotel occupancy tax is $200,000, Jones said.

Last year, commissioners projected $300,000 in revenue from the tax but ended up getting only $210,000. That’s down from a high of $465,000 in 2009. The county is suing Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort over the issue, saying it’s being cheated out of tens of thousands of dollars from Mountaineer’s practice of not collecting the occupancy tax on complimentary rooms.

Also this week, commissioners:

Approved a request from Superintendent Suzan Smith of Hancock County Schools to put an excess levy on the ballot for Nov. 9;

Approved the retirement of Hancock County Clerk Eleanor Straight effective Aug. 31;

Approved a request from Robert A. Vidas, new executive director of the county’s Office of Technology and Communications, to advertise for bids for the renovation of the Hancock County Courthouse entrance, including a secured main front entrance; and

Approved a request from Hancock County Sheriff Ralph Fletcher to add two members to the Hancock County Sheriff’s Reserves: Kevin D. Richmond and Saul Casto.

(Huba can be contacted at shuba@reviewonline.com)