Courtesy of Sam Sentelle Putnam County Manager Jeremy Young speaks to Putnam Rotary on Tuesday, July 23, 2019.

The following is a synopsis of the July 23 Putnam Rotary meeting. Putnam Rotary meets at noon on Tuesdays at Area 34 in Hurricane.

In their meeting this morning, Putnam Rotary heard from County Manager Jeremy Young, who keeps track of local government operations for the elected county commissioners.

"We're doing pretty good here," said the chief county administrator. "A lot of counties in the state have trouble paying their jail bills.

"When I first came to Putnam, the jail bill kept going up and up. It has almost doubled in the last nine years. But now the cost seems to have leveled out.

"Out of our $20 million budget, almost $2 million goes to the jail bill. Some counties seem reluctant to arrest people," he said, "because they can't pay their jail bills.

"We've got problems here," he said, "just like everyone does. But we've got a standard here: 'Don't go to Putnam County or you'll go to jail.'

"The greatest part of our budget goes for schools," Young said. "But that's what draws people and businesses to Putnam County.

Most of the funding for schools comes from the state, but local money for schools, for the greater part, comes from an excess operations levy and bond construction partnerships with the state, which are supported by a popular vote.

Local taxes support law enforcement, property appraisal, the circuit court, and emergency services. The County Commission also oversees several boards - the parks and recreation board, the health department, the zoning board and WVU Extension - among others.

"The county applies for as much money as we can through HUD Block Grants," Young said. "Water projects are what we do. We work through the Regional Intergovernmental Council [serving Boone, Clay, Kanawha and Putnam].

"We hired an engineering firm to do a study of all the county areas that don't have water. And we break those areas down by cost per home.

"That's pretty much how the commission decides which project we want to fund next. We think our chances are pretty good at getting funded for the Jim Ridge area.

"We were fortunate enough two years ago to finally get a grant for the Manilla Ridge project that serves about 50 new customers.

"That was a $1.5 million grant. And then West Virginia-American kicked in about $185,000 and the county only had to put in $85,000, which covered a lot of the engineering costs.

"When we put in the money for Valley Park, we started getting calls from folks that didn't have water: 'How come you're putting all that money in the park system and we don't even have running water?' Which is a valid concern," Young added.

"We have three [Tax Increment Financing] districts in the county," he explained. "The Teays Valley TIF is one of the largest in the state."

A TIF district borrows money for community improvements on anticipated growth in property values. The improvements attract residential growth and business investment.

The funding comes from growth in property values, not from existing assessments.

"The money coming from a TIF district," said Young, "you can't take it and apply it somewhere else. It has to be spent within that district."

Other TIF districts in Putnam are the Devonshire development in Scott Depot and the business park in Frazier's Bottom.

The county meets with state roads people every couple of months, "usually the last Monday of every other month at 9:30.

"There's usually a lot of angry people when the DOH reps show up. There's usually not much can be done, but they hear from residents where the big problems are."


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