Government, Latest News, Preston County

Preston County employees get salary ‘adjustment,’ fire departments and arts funded

KINGWOOD — Preston Commissioners approved a one-time salary adjustment of $1,000 Tuesday for full-time workers and funds for some outside agencies.

The $1,000 will go to full-time workers who have been on the payroll six months or more. Full-time workers with more than six months on the job but less than a year will receive a pro-rated amount.

Part-time workers will receive a pro-rated amount. The funds will be on workers’ paychecks by the end of the year.

Commissioners also approved $3,000 for each of the county’s 12 volunteer fire departments and $6,000 for the Preston County Economic Development Authority. Preston Community Arts Center will receive $3,700 from hotel/motel tax collections.

The salary adjustments will cost a total of $100,652. Most of that, $79,629, will come from the commission’s contingency fund.

Some elected officials previously criticized commissioners for giving commission employees a raise but not others.

“We truly appreciate all the employees,” Commission President Samantha Stone said. “We will also continue to do the best that we can with the dollars we have to work with.”

A lot of things have been expected of county workers under COVID-19, she said. Other requests for funding by outside agencies will be looked at again later. County Administrator Kathy Mace noted there are different funding opportunities available now to tho, due to COVID-19.

Mace also gave assurances that the county is not ignoring the Preston County Health Department, even though it has not given it the annual contribution of $23,057.

Mace said the county has helped the department with equipment like tents and traffic cones for COVID-19 testing sites, helped the department with its application for CARES funding and other things.

Commissioner Don Smith said the commission has been considering the allocations for some time. “We just wanted to make sure financially we didn’t get ourselves in a bind,” he said.

Smith asked if any grants have been found to buy AED (automated external defibrillator) units for county buildings. Mace said no. Smith said if nothing else, he’d like to see each building have a unit. Eventually, he predicted, they will be required.

“We’ve been talking about this for almost six years. We need to do it,” Smith said. “We can talk about this forever, but it’s not going to help anything if someone has a heart attack.”

Mace said she will have estimates on the units’ cost at next week’s meeting.

In other actions, commissioners approved the use of the courthouse lawn by HD Tumbling 5-6 p.m. Oct. 24 (for a practice session) and 5-6:30 p.m. Oct. 29, when Thriller and other works will be performed as part of the Main Street Kingwood business trick or treat.