911 director lowers budget request

PARKERSBURG – Wood County 911 Director Randy Lowe told county commissioners he made cuts in his budget, and his 2013-2014 budget request is $93,220 less than last year.

The total budget request for the 911 center for 2013-2014 is $1,864,051 compared to last year’s total of $1,957,271.

“So the cuts have been in the line items I feel that can be made in hopes we can continue to have a solvent budget, which we do,” Lowe said. Decreases included phone/fax expenses, vehicles, training, dues, insurance and bonds, contractual services, and auto supplies.

The 911 director said if the commission finds adequate funds available to grant raises for other county employees, he wants his workers taken into consideration as well. He has 30 employees.

“I have mentioned this before, but I feel I have to do my due diligence. Carl Sizemore, who is the assistant 911 director and also the assistant emergency management service director, is making approximately $2,600 less than the average Class A county assistant director. I am asking for an adjustment of $1,300 to his salary,” Lowe said.

“He has done a lot more work. He is now floodplain trained. He was there pretty much 24 hours a day during the derecho. He does not receive overtime. He’s very dedicated. He takes the mobile command vehicle out when requested for DUI checkpoints. He’s taking weekends and night hours away from his family to do that. Half of his salary and benefits are paid for out of the Emergency Management Services director’s budget for the EMPG grants,” Lowe said. “I think our budget could definitely handle a $1,300 adjustment. He would still be lower than the average, but I think giving him something for his hard work is appropriate.”

Sizemore’s current salary is $40,622.40.

Lowe noted the local 911 center is well below the national average for the number of employee turnovers, which he said nationally is at 17 percent.

“It’s very hard to keep dispatchers because of the stress of the job,” he said. “We have been very fortunate, not just pay, but other benefits have kept the more experienced dispatchers working. So we are at 4 percent a year, well below the national average,” Lowe said.

Also Monday, Assessor Rich Shaffer told the commissioners he’s holding the line on his budget items.

“Of course, we are looking at a possible increase in health care insurance, but other than that my line items are basically the same as last year,” Shaffer told the commissioners.

“It appears you are being very resourceful and we appreciate that,” commission President Wayne Dunn said.

Shaffer’s total budget request for the new year is $600,171, his total for the 2012-2013 year was $581,956, with the increase in group insurance/retirement costs.

Facing relatively flat revenues again this year, rising costs and a number of funding requests from community organizations seeking help, commissioners began work sessions Friday on the 2013-2014 budget. Meetings this week are scheduled with county elected officials on their requests. The new budget must be sent to Charleston for review by March 28. The county, along with the municipalities, state and boards of education set their levy rates on the third Tuesday in April.