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Hot Topics Discussed at Jefferson County Legislative Summit Meeting

"We tried to come up with a concensus of what would be most important and what we'd like to get out of legislative session."

JEFFERSON COUNTY, W.Va - County commissioners brought several issues to the table on Tuesday at a legislative summit meeting with state lawmakers.

Jefferson County Commissioner President Dale Manuel said, "We tried to come up with a concensus of what would be most important and what we'd like to get out of legislative session."

One of the points they talked about was the transfer tax that partially goes to the state.

"If they would allow the counties to hold a third of the transfer tax that currently goes to the state and utilize it to pay the regional jail costs, then that would allow us to free up some dollars in our budget," said Manuel.

The commissioners also want to collect joint ambluance and EMS fees to go to public safety. The fees are currently being collected individually.

And both state and county officials agree there is a great need for a regional mental health facility in the Eastern Panhandle.

They also discussed county elected officials' salaries. According to Manuel, they haven't seen a pay increase in eight years, and are hoping a new bill will change that.

Delegate Tiffany Lawrence (D - Jefferson, 65) said, "It's something I think all of us have mixed views on, and we'll be looking to see if that comes to fruition."

County commissioners and state officials also expressed concern for education and teacher salaries.

"Now we need to put up or shut up, and I want to put up so we really need to put as much effort as we can with trying to make our salaries more competitive with the surrounding areas especially here in the Eastern Panhandle," said Manuel.

Nothing has been officially signed off yet, but Delegate Lawrence said in the meeting that Governor Tomblin has set aside $16 million to give teachers a two percent pay raise across the state.

"With everything that we're seeing that'll be about a 15 percent decrease in their budget and so that's just something that we're very concerned about and really lay on the backs of students and parents if we can't make up those revenues elsewhere," said Delegate Lawrence.

While funds are currently lean in both the state and the county, state officials say they're optimistic looking forward to the next legislative session.

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