MCC announces potential budget cuts


By Courtney Harrison - [email protected]



Courtney Harrison/WDN Photo The Mingo County Commission announced that it will be forced to make more layoffs and cuts due to the lack of funds. The MCC held a special meeting Monday morning. Pictured above, left to right, commissioners Diann Hannah, John Mark Hubbard and Greg “Hootie” Smith.


WILLIAMSON – Due to the continued decline of the local economy, potential budget cuts and layoffs were announced at a special meeting of the Mingo County Commission prior to an executive session held with several elected officials to discuss personnel.

The special meeting was held early Monday morning. The current budget was discussed in depth prior to the executive session with elected officials .

Before going into executive session, the commissioners reflected upon the current situation and the difficult decisions they face.

Commissioner Greg “Hootie” Smith stated, “Here is where we stand. We set the budget and you all made cuts to meet your budget according to the best guess of what the money would be. You know we lowered every budget and we have lowered our budget drastically for the county commission…We had a telephone conference with the State Auditor’s Office and he said, ‘Commissioner, I can’t tell you. We are in unchartered water in W.Va. We have never seen this before where the revenues are so low that the budgets are going to be missed so bad and the cash flow is nonexistent’…. If our collections are not significant for the month of September, we are going to have to look at reducing the elected official’s budget. I don’t see any other way … I know I haven’t been able to sleep and have been sick at this. Even though we have cut substantially, I suspect by the end of this meeting, there will be more county commission employees that will lose their job. That is a drop in the bucket at what we are looking at … What is frustrating is that there will be a loss of services to the tax payer. At the end of September, we will be potentially be looking to reduce the budget for elected officials.”

Commission President John Mark Hubbard stated, “You only have two choices. We may actually have to do both of them. We are going to probably have to lay some people off. We might have to cut wages on the remaining people. No one likes to hear that but that is the reality of it if that is all you have coming in … There have been prayers offered up. The saddest thing that you ever have to do is walk in and tell somebody that has done nothing but the right thing to do every day and you not be able to continue to have them employed. It doesn’t only impact that person, it also affects their family. We have a responsibility to see that we get to tomorrow and we can do it but it is going to hurt to get there.”

Commissioner Diann Hannah also spoke. Hannah stated, “I have prayed about this and I don’t say that lightly. I don’t think God has thrown us under the bus. He is right here with us. I believe our area is going to recover. I don’t know when but all in God’s time. In the meantime, we are going to have to work together and not be mad at each other. You can’t go backward but you can go forward.”

Prior to the discussion on the current budget, copies were provided detailing the county’s revenue breakdown for 2015 and 2016. The documents indicated that if September collections do not increase, elected officials would face budget cuts.

Hubbard began the discussion stating, “The first page will give you a revenue breakdown received on a monthly or quarterly basis. You can go through each of those and see 2015 versus the fiscal year 2016.”

The discussion continued, with Hubbard explaining the Waste Coal Tax. Hubbard explained that this was not available in 2015 and the money from the Waste Coal Tax cannot be used to pay salary. Grant Coordinator Leigh Ann Ray, further explained stating, “When it is time for Waste Coal Severance Tax, we have to explain how we are going to use it and it has to be approved by the state. It can be used for infrastructure and development. That money is designated for raising dilapidated structures.”

Commission also discussed the Coal Severance Tax which dropped in the 2015 year and is expected to be less in 2016. “Right now we only have four or five mines operating in Mingo County,” Hubbard explained. “When you look at that, you can assume that our Coal Severance Tax will probably be cut in half for the 2016 year,” Hubbard continued. The discussion continued with Hubbard explaining that each year’s budget is based on values received from the county assessor’s office. At the end of the 2015 year, money had to be taken from the county’s rainy day fund to balance the budget. “That was a rather large hit,” Hubbard stated.

At the end of the budget sheet a note was listed explaining property tax collections this year compared to at the end of August 2015. “This is important,” Hubbard stated. Throughout the end of last week (August 18, 2016) the county has collected $267,084.27 in property taxes. For the entire month of August 2015, $1,055,275.10 was collected in property taxes. “You are roughly $740,000 less right now then what we collected in 2015 through the month of August,” Hubbard continued.

Commissioner Greg “Hootie” Smith continued the discussion stating, “It is our duty as county commissioners to make sure we have a balanced budget at the end of the year…One of those big bills that we had to make partial payments on as you can imagine is the jail bill. Come the end of June, we had to make sure that the jail bill was satisfied for that fiscal year and that is what we have done. When you don’t have collections like you have had in the past that is when you have cash flow issues.”

Smith continued explaining the transfer of $250,000 from the Rainy Day Fund at last week’s regular commission meeting. “With all the bills, cash as of August 18, 2016 we are $2,219.59 in the negative. At the commission meeting last week, we did a transfer from the Rainy Day fund of $250,000. The balance after the transfer was $247,780.41,” Smith stated.

The discussion continued with Smith explaining that the county still has to pay accounts payable and liability insurance. “The balance will pay bills through August 18 and that would leave us negative $100,608.25. The balance after paying payroll and payments after September 2016 will be negative $486,608.25. That doesn’t include tax collection because we don’t know. The end of August is usually pretty good tax collection with people paying to get an early reduction. To be honest with you, people don’t have the money to pay early.”

The discussion continued with the Commission discussing budget cuts and layoffs. Smith stated, “Here is where we stand. We set the budget and you all made cuts to meet your budget according to the best guess of what the money would be. You know we lowered every budget and we have lowered our budget drastically for the county commission…We had a telephone conference with the State Auditor’s Office and he said, ‘Commissioner, I can’t tell you. We are in unchartered water in W.Va. We have never seen this before where the revenues are so low that the budgets are going to be missed so bad and the cash flow is nonexistent’…. If our collections are not significant for the month of September, we are going to have to look at reducing the elected official’s budget. I don’t see any other way … I know I haven’t been able to sleep and have been sick at this. Even though we have cut substantially, I suspect by the end of this meeting, there will be more county commission employees that will lose their job. That is a drop in the bucket at what we are looking at … What is frustrating is that there will be a loss of services to the tax payer. At the end of September, we will be potentially be looking to reduce the budget for elected officials.”

Following commission statements, the commission went into executive session with several elected officials. The executive session extended through the afternoon. An update will be provided as more information becomes available.

Courtney Harrison/WDN Photo The Mingo County Commission announced that it will be forced to make more layoffs and cuts due to the lack of funds. The MCC held a special meeting Monday morning. Pictured above, left to right, commissioners Diann Hannah, John Mark Hubbard and Greg “Hootie” Smith.
http://williamsondailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_MCC-1.jpgCourtney Harrison/WDN Photo The Mingo County Commission announced that it will be forced to make more layoffs and cuts due to the lack of funds. The MCC held a special meeting Monday morning. Pictured above, left to right, commissioners Diann Hannah, John Mark Hubbard and Greg “Hootie” Smith.

By Courtney Harrison

[email protected]

(Courtney Harrison is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2279.)

(Courtney Harrison is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2279.)

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