County approves $11.5-million-dollar budget, which includes several earmarked ARPA-funded projects

BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Commission’s budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year saw increases in the regional jail bill and increases to PEIA premiums, but commissioners were still able to provide 3 percent raises across elected officials’ departments.

Upshur County Administrator Tabatha Perry said the county’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30, and the 2024 budget was balanced at $11,500,177. That $11.5 million budget is the largest ever, with the 2022-2023 fiscal year budget amounting to $9.2 million. Perry explained that about $1 million of that budget comprises American Rescue Plan Act funds that have already been earmarked for specific projects.

“However, $1 million of that budget was appropriated for projects that will most likely take place in the first quarter of fiscal year 2024, that were previously appropriated during ARPA hearings, so without the ARPA projects, the budget would have been $10.5 million,” Perry said.

Upshur County Commission President Kristie Tenney thanked all departments for their reasonable requests.

“On behalf of the Upshur County Commission, we would like to express our continued gratitude to work with an extraordinary administration staff, as well as elected officials, supervisors and county employees,” Tenney said. “The allocation requests were very reasonable for the 2024 budget year and for that, we are very thankful. With the increased costs associated with PEIA and the Regional Jail bill, it is a blessing to work alongside such a fantastic group that continues to ensure the quality of service for the Upshur County residents remains of the utmost importance.”

ARPA projects

About $1 million of the budget is comprised of American Rescue Plan Act monies that have already been designated for several large-scale projects, but the funds have not been transferred yet.

“Almost all of the funds have been appropriated, but the projects haven’t commenced, like the courthouse annex HVAC replacement just started basically this month, so I anticipate those invoices coming in after the first of the fiscal year,” Perry said. “The planning and design services of the future Recreational Complex will also fall under these funds.”

The ARPA funds will also be utilized to replace the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office mobile radios. Perry said all of these projects combined are anticipated to cost about $1 million.

Regional jail bill

One of the county’s largest expenses is the regional jail bill, which has reached a record high – estimated at over $1 million – for the 2024 fiscal year.

“The county commission budgeted $1,050,000 for the Regional Jail bill because we’ve been informed the per diem rate will increase on July 1,” Perry said. “There is supposed to be a formula put into place; however, we were told to budget $54.48 per day.”

In comparison, for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, the commission budgeted $850,000 for the regional jail bill, and Perry said even that wouldn’t be enough. She said the commission must complete a budget revision because she’s projecting the cost will amount to about $79,000 more.

Capital expenditures

The commission also plans to complete a floor replacement project in the courthouse’s basement, which is occupied by the probation office, and purchase two vehicles for the Upshur County Sherriff’s Office.

“Those will be through lease financing; however, it’s going to appear like the sheriff’s department is driving around several new vehicles, but that’s because we have one out to bid now for a vehicle that was totaled, and then we have a vehicle that was ordered during [the current 2022-2023] fiscal year, but it’s on backorder, and we do not anticipate it being built until June,” Perry said.

Perry estimated the flooring project in the probation office would cost about $10,200 but said a significant portion of that amount is due to needed asbestos abatement.


County employees’ contribution to Public Employee Retirement System will remain the same at 9 percent, and contributions to the Health Reimbursement Accounts will remain the same.

“The commission did receive an increase in monthly premiums with Public Employees Insurance Agency; when we commenced the budget hearings, we were told that PEIA premium increases would be 9.7 percent,” Perry said. “One day into reviewing the budget, we were told the bill had taken a turn, and now the county should be expecting a 15 to 20 percent premium increase.”

The final decision will not be made until the end of March, and the county’s budget is due to the West Virginia State Auditor’s Office March 28. However, the county commission plan to absorb the difference.

“The County Commission has budgeted a premium increase of 20 percent, which cost them approximately an additional $127,000 in premiums, but the commission was able to absorb that cost,” Perry said. “The employees will not be paying anything additional, and we were able to get 3 percent raises for elected officials to distribute as they see fit.”


The Upshur Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management director position will be made a full-time position in the 2024 fiscal year.

“Back when the previous director left, our office took over all responsibilities for the DHSEM office and after we got things in order, the commission hired a part-time director and then a part-time deputy director at 520 hours,” Perry said. “[DHSEM director] Steve Wykoff has been in the community and involved in several different emergency management facets with VIPS (Buckhannon Volunteers in Police Service), so he really has been an asset, and he’s very knowledgeable about the position.”

“The Commission decided it would be in the best interest of the county to make that position full time again, especially when there’s an increase in the number of events in the city and the county that takes more planning,” she added.

Wykoff will commence working as a full-time employee at the start of the new fiscal year, July 1.

The commission also approved a request from Lewis-Upshur Animal Control Facility Director Jan Cochran to bring back a temporary worker.

“The director of the Lewis-Upshur Animal Control Facility has one full-time employee, one part-time employee and then she had a temporary fill-in person [whose term] has concluded, so she was requesting to take her part-time employee to full time, and then bring the other individual back as a fill-in during vacations and short-term sick leave,” Perry said. “Unfortunately, LUAC is not there to make money – it’s not self-sustaining, especially with wages – so the commission was able to bring the one individual back as a fill-in, and that person was appropriated 520 hours per year, so 10 hours a week.”

Perry said the as-needed employee can be called in if another employee is ill or takes vacation, enabling LUAC not to be as short-staffed. The change will also go into effect July 1.

Contributions to outside entities

The commission’s contribution to the Upshur County Development Authority and Airport Authority remained the same.

“Their contribution to the Upshur County Development Authority was $40,000, and their contribution to the Buckhannon-Upshur Airport Authority was $20,000,” Perry said. “They will also be providing Tri-County Visitation Center with an allocation of $8,000 and Country Roads Transit with $15,000.”

The commission is also contributing $2,000 to the Upshur County Senior Center Meals on Wheels program to assist them in expanding to other parts of the county.

“Then, they’re making a $1,000 contribution to assist with the implementation of baseboard heating at the Hampton Community Building, which the commission owns and is leased by Appalachian Impact,” Perry said.

The Upshur County Public Library received a higher allocation this year with $43,000, and commissioners earmarked $5,000 for the West Virginia Strawberry Festival Association.

“Another one that’s exciting to me is an allocation to CVB (Upshur County Convention & Visitors Bureau) in the amount of $12,500, so per West Virginia Code, the Commission must distribute 50 percent of the hotel-motel tax fees collected to CVB,” Perry said. “Last year, the contribution was about $9,000, and that’s been increased to $12,500, but I get so excited about it because when I first started here, that contribution was practically non-existent.”

The commission unanimously approved the 2023-2024 fiscal budget during its regular March 23 meeting.  

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