Exponent Editorial, March 18, 1999
Let’s get it right this time and give
raises to troopers

    One glaring omission from the list of bills passed at the end of the regular session of the Legislature Saturday was a pay raise for state troopers. It had been one of the high profile issues addressed by lawmakers this year but childish behavior in both houses botched things up.
    To hear Sen. Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, tell it, the House members of the conference committee (including Del. Barbara Warner, D-Harrison) broke off the negotiations. But the House members claim that while they were trying to talk with Prezioso on the Senate floor, they were abruptly escorted out of the chamber by the sergeant-at-arms.
Good grief. Just get it done.
    The main sticking point was over a proposal to cancel this year’s cadet class in order to add more money for trooper raises. The Senate wanted to keep the class, which would provide for a $2,200 annual raise for troopers. The House wanted to scrap the class which would mean a $3,900 raise.
    However they resolve this issue, one thing is abundantly clear: Lawmakers are embarrassed that they failed to provide a raise for troopers and now they are scrambling to add it to this weekend’s special session agenda.
    “Absolutely essential, in my opinion,” said Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin, “is the State Police pay raise.”
“Even if we do nothing else,” said House Speaker Bob Kiss, “we need to do that.”
    We think the troopers have stated their case very clearly. While the state enjoys a low crime rate, they are paid much less than their counterparts in surrounding states.
    West Virginia state troopers need a substantial pay raise this year and lawmakers need to make certain that it happens in the special session.

Today’s editorial reflects the opinion of the Exponent editorial board, which includes William J. Sedivy, John G. Miller, Julie R. Cryser, James Logue, Kevin Courtney and Cecil Jarvis.


Anmoore officials can quickly ease water bill
controversy: just by paying up themselves

    Anmoore’s elected officials can do something right now to calm the controversy over past-due water bills: They can pay off their own. If they can’t afford to do that, they can sign up for payment plans.
    City officials aren’t the only town residents with past-due water bills. But their bills are the most troublesome, because they present the appearance of favoritism. (We’ll leave it up to the Public Service Commission, which will look into how Anmoore’s water and sewer departments have been run, to decide whether there was favoritism.)
    But Anmoore officials, by paying their bills or agreeing to payment plans, can show they take this problem seriously. And it is a serious problem. Thirty-three percent of the city’s water customers — 177 of 543 — are at least 30 days late on their water and sewer bills. (Among them are a council member, a former council member and some relatives of council members.)
    With so many overdue bills and few — if any — shut-off notices going out, it is no surprise the Anmoore water department is in debt. The department had a $9,000 deficit in fiscal year 1998 and deficits in the past three years.
    One thing Anmoore does not need right now is a lot of finger-pointing. Some city officials have claimed the water woes are left over from previous administrations. That won’t wash. Nor will the defense — offered by some city council members — that they did not know about the water department’s problems. The Anmoore City Council serves as the Anmoore Water Board, so it was council members’ job to know.
    The findings of the PSC investigation are not due until July 9. Anmoore cannot wait that long. City officials need to act now. They should send out overdue shut-off notices promptly — putting themselves at the top of the mailing list. They should pay up their water bills or sign payment agreements. Doing so will be best for themselves and best for their city.

Tim Langer
Telegram Editorial Board member



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Copyright Clarksburg Publishing Company 1999