While I serve on the West Virginia Legislature's Government Organization Interim Study Committee and this committee currently is reviewing a proposal to increase the salaries of county elected officials (see Martinsburg Journal newspaper article below), my previous position has not changed.
I adamantly oppose and will vote against any legislative committee recommendation to increase the salaries of elected officials.
The West Virginia Constitution requires the State Legislature to determine the salaries of county elected officials, but my preference is for "Home Rule" on these local issues.
Accordingly I will introduce Home Rule legislation in 2014.
My proposal will seek to amend the West Virginia Constitution, allowing county commissioners and councils to determine the salaries of elected official positions, but ONLY as long as these salary determinations are subject to a local voter referendum.
Delegate Larry D. Kump
MARTINSBURG - When asked for a group consensus, the Berkeley County Council members reiterated their consensus against supporting a pay increase for elected officials and council and commission members.
In Thursday's council meeting, members needed to provide a council representation to Vivian Parsons, executive director for the County Commissioners' Association of West Virginia, on supporting legislation for a salary increase for the 2014 legislative session.
All five council members opposed an increase in 2014.
"It's a budgetary issue for me. We're talking an increase for the council people plus the other electeds, it's a right healthy addition to our budget. Since I've been here, for the past five years, we've taken the approach to cut as much as we can; we haven't been able to give our employees raises because of that," said President Anthony Petrucci.
Most council members expressed the opinion to maintain the current pay level, $36,900, since members knew it was the salary when running for the council.
"We knew what we were getting into when we signed on. I'm perfectly content with my salary," said Jim Barnhart.
"We're still asking people to watch their budget. We're still not out of the tough economic times that we're in. When I decided to run for office, I knew what the pay was. Therefore, I feel that the pay that we get is what we committed to," Copenhaver said. "I feel everyone is entitled to more money, but at the present time, we just don't have the funds."
Both Sen. Don Cookman, D-Hampshire and Delegate Larry Kump, R-Berkeley, will be part of proposals meant to change the legislation concerning a counties' constitutional officials' salaries, although proposals do not mean it will be introduced during the 2014 legislative session.
Kump will propose a constitutional amendment to allow county commissions and councils to determine the salaries of county elected officials subject to a voter referendum approved at the next general election.
Through the Government Organization subcommittee, of which Cookman is a member, the legislation will include a 12 percent increase to elected officials' salaries and a statutory increase of three percent on July 1, 2016, and every two years afterwards.