Senate Bill No. 379
(By Senators Miller, Blair, Boley, Cann, Cookman, Fitzsimmons, Kirkendoll, Stollings, Snyder, Kessler (Mr. President) and Plymale)
[Introduced January 17, 2014; referred to the Committee on Government Organization; and then to the Committee on Finance.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §7-7-1, §7-7-3, §7-7-4, §7-7-4a and §7-7-6b of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, all relating to counties; reclassifying counties from ten classes to five classes; increasing the salaries of county commissioners and elected county officials; authorizing an automatic salary increase every two years; clarifying that the automatic salary increases only take effect with the new term of office; clarifying prosecuting attorneys’ full-time and part-time compensation; and clarifying assessors’ additional compensation classifications.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §7-7-1, §7-7-3, §7-7-4, §7-7-4a and §7-7-6b of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 7. COMPENSATION OF ELECTED COUNTY OFFICIALS.
§7-7-1. Legislative findings and purpose.
(a) The Legislature finds that it has, since January 1, 2003 2007, consistently and annually imposed upon the county commissioners, sheriffs, county and circuit clerks, assessors and prosecuting attorneys in each county board, new and additional duties by the enactment of new provisions and amendments to this code. The new and additional duties imposed upon the aforesaid these county officials by these enactments are such that they would justify the increases in compensation as provided in section four of this article, without violating the provisions of section thirty-eight, article VI of the Constitution of West Virginia.
(b) The Legislature further finds that there are, from time to time, additional duties imposed upon all county officials through the acts of the Congress of the United States and that such these acts constitute new and additional duties for county officials and as such, justify the increases in compensation as provided by section four of this article, without violating the provisions of section thirty-eight, article VI of the Constitution of West Virginia.
(c) The Legislature further finds that there is a direct correlation between the total assessed property valuations of a county on which the salary levels of the county commissioners, sheriffs, county and circuit clerks, assessors and prosecuting attorneys are based, and the new and additional duties that each of these officials is required to perform as they serve the best interests of their respective counties. Inasmuch as To the extent that the reappraisal of the property valuations in each county has now been accomplished, the Legislature finds that a change in classification of counties by virtue of increased property valuations will occur on an infrequent basis. However, it is the further finding of the Legislature that when such a change in classification of counties does occur, that new and additional programs, economic developments, requirements of public safety and the need for new services provided by county officials all increase, that the same constitute new and additional duties for county officials as their respective counties reach greater heights of economic development, as exemplified by the substantial increases in property valuations and, as such, justify the increases in compensation provided in section four of this article, without violating the provisions of section thirty-eight, article VI of the Constitution of West Virginia.
(d) The Legislature further finds and declares that the amendments enacted to this article are intended to modify the provisions of this article so as to cause the same to be in full compliance with the provisions of the Constitution of West Virginia and to be in full compliance with the decisions of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.
§7-7-3. Classification of counties for purpose of determining compensation of elected county officials.
(a) Effective July 1, 1996 2014, and thereafter, for the purpose of determining the compensation of elected county officials, the counties of the State of West Virginia will be grouped into ten five classes based on their assessed valuation of property, all classes. These ten five classes and the minimum and maximum valuation of property, all classes, established to determine the classification of each county are as follows:
Minimum Assessed Maximum Assessed
Valuation of Property Valuation of Property
Class All Classes All Classes
Class I $ 2,000,000,000 No Limit
Class II $ 1,500,000,000 $ 1,999,999,999
Class III $ 1,000,000,000 $ 1,499,999,999
Class IV $ 700,000,000 $ 999,999,999
Class V $ 600,000,000 $ 699,999,999
Class VI $ 500,000,000 $ 599,999,999
Class VII $ 400,000,000 $ 499,999,999
Class VIII $ 300,000,000 $ 399,999,999
Class IX $ 200,000,000 $ 299,999,999
Class X $-0- $ 199,999,999
Class I $ 8,000,000,000 No Limit
Class II $ 2,000,000,000 $ 7,999,999,999
Class III $ 600,000,000 $ 1,999,999,999
Class IV $ 400,000,000 $ 599,999,999
Class V $-0- $ 399,999,999
(b) The assessed valuation of property, all classes, that shall be used as the base to determine the class of a county shall be the assessed valuation of property, all classes, of the county as certified by the county assessor, State Auditor and county clerk prior to March 29, 1996 2014.
(c) Prior to March 29, 1998 2016, and each second year thereafter, the county commission of each county, shall determine if the assessed valuation of property, all classes, of the county, as certified by the county assessor, State Auditor and county clerk is within the minimum and maximum limits of a class above or below the class in which the county then is the county’s current classification. If the county commission so determines, it shall record the new classification of the county with the State Auditor and State Tax Commissioner and record its action on its county commission record.
(d) The classification of each county shall be is subject to review by the State Auditor. He or she shall determine if the classification of each county is correct based on the final assessed valuation of property, all classes, certified to him or her by the county assessor, State Auditor and county clerk. If he or she finds that a county is incorrectly classified, he or she shall notify the county commission of that county promptly of his or her finding and in any case shall notify the county prior to June 30 of that current fiscal year. Any county commission so notified shall correct its classification immediately and make any necessary corrections in the salaries of its elected county officials for the next fiscal year.
(e) Notwithstanding the provisions of this article, whenever any other provision of this code refers to classifications of counties for purposes of imposing any right, duty or responsibility, the classification system set forth in subsection (a) of this section shall be utilized for determining the classification of a particular county.
§7-7-4. Compensation of elected county officials and county commissioners for each class of county; effective date.
(1) The increased salaries to be paid to the county commissioners and the other elected county officials described in this subsection section on and after July 1, 2006 2014, are set out in subdivisions subsections (5) and (7) of this subsection section. Every county commissioner and elected county official in each county, whose term of office commenced prior to, or on or after July 1, 2006 2014, shall receive the same annual salary by virtue of the legislative findings of extra duties as set forth in section one of this article.
(2) Before the increased salaries, as set out in subdivisions subsections (5) and (7) of this subsection section, are paid to the county commissioners and the elected county officials, the following requirements must be met:
(A) The Auditor has certified that the proposed annual county budget for the fiscal year beginning the first days of July 1, 2006 2014, has increased over the previous fiscal year in an amount sufficient for the payment of the increase in the salaries, set out in subdivisions subsections (5) and (7) of this subsection section, and the related employment taxes: Provided, That the Auditor may not approve the budget certification for any proposed annual county budget containing anticipated receipts which are unreasonably greater or lesser than that of the previous year. For purposes of this subdivision subsection, the term “receipts” does not include unencumbered fund balance or federal or state grants; and
(B) Each county commissioner or other elected county official, described in this subsection section, in office on the effective date of the increased salaries provided by this subsection section, who desires to receive the increased salary has, prior to that date, filed in the office of the clerk of the county commission his or her written agreement to accept the salary increase. The salary for the person who holds the office of county commissioner or other elected county official, described in this subsection section, who fails to file the written agreement as required by this paragraph, shall be is the salary for that office in effect immediately prior to the effective date of the increased salaries provided by this subsection section until the person vacates the office or his or her term of office expires, whichever first occurs.
(3) If there is an insufficient projected increase in revenues to pay the increased salaries and the related employment taxes, then the salaries of that county’s elected officials and commissioners shall remain at the level in effect at the time certification was sought.
(4) In any county having a tribunal in lieu of a county commission, the county commissioners of that county may be paid less than the minimum salary limits of the county commission for that particular class of the county.
(5) COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
Class I $36,960
Class II $36,300
Class III $35,640
Class IV $34,980
Class V $34,320
Class VI $28,380
Class VII $27,720
Class VIII $25,080
Class IX $24,420
Class X $19,800
Class I $42,000
Class II $41,000
Class III $40,000
Class IV $31,000
Class V $28,000
(6) For the purpose of determining the salaries to be paid to the elected county officials of each county, the salaries for each county office by class, set out in subdivision subsection (7) of this subsection section, are established and shall be used by each county commission in determining the salaries of each of their county officials other than salaries of members of the county commission.
(7) OTHER ELECTED OFFICIALS
County Circuit Prosecuting
Sheriff Clerk Clerk Assessor Attorney
Class I $44,880 $55,440 $55,440 $44,880 $ 96,600
Class II $44,220 $54,780 $54,780 $44,220 $ 94,400
Class III $43,890 $53,460 $53,460 $43,890 $ 92,200
Class IV $43,560 $53,154 $53,154 $43,560 $ 90,000
Class V $43,230 $52,800 $52,800 $43,230 $ 87,800
Class VI $42,900 $49,500 $49,500 $42,900 $ 59,400
Class VII $42,570 $48,840 $48,840 $42,570 $ 56,760
Class VIII $42,240 $48,180 $48,180 $42,240 $ 54,120
Class IX $41,910 $47,520 $47,520 $41,910 $ 50,160
Class X $38,280 $42,240 $42,240 $38,280 $ 46,200
Class I $51,000 $63,000 $63,000 $51,000 $109,000
Class II $50,000 $62,000 $62,000 $50,000 $108,000
Class III $49,000 $61,000 $61,000 $49,000 $105,000
Class IV $48,000 $55,000 $55,000 $48,000 $ 66,000
Class V $47,000 $54,000 $54,000 $47,000 $ 60,000
(8) Any county clerk, circuit clerk, county assessor or sheriff of a Class I through Class V III county, inclusive, any assessor or any sheriff of a Class VI IV through Class IX V county, inclusive, shall devote full-time to his or her public duties to the exclusion of any other employment: Provided, That any public official, whose term of office begins when his or her county’s classification imposes no restriction on his or her outside activities, may not be restricted on his or her outside activities during the remainder of the term for which he or she is elected.
(9) Beginning July 1, 2016, and every two years thereafter, the county commissioners and the other elected county officials of each county shall receive a salary increase equal to three percent of the county commissioner’s or elected county official’s salary during the preceding year so long as the requirements of subsection (2) of this section are met: Provided, That the salary increase does not take effect until the new term of office for the county commissioner or elected county official.
§7-7-4a. Authorizing the option of full-time status for part-time prosecuting attorneys.
(a) On or before After January 1, 2009, a county may not have a part-time prosecutor. The county commissions of counties in Class VI IV through X V shall then compensate all prosecuting attorneys that have changed to full-time by virtue of this section at the same rate of compensation established in section four of this article for a prosecuting attorney in a Class IV and V county: Provided, That, upon mutual agreement of the prosecuting attorney and the county commission, the prosecuting attorney may choose to remain a part-time prosecuting attorney.
(b) If, after the first day of January, two thousand nine, during the course of a term of office, pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, any prosecutor who becomes full-time or chooses to remain part-time who believes that the responsibilities of his or her office either no longer requires a full-time position or believes that the duties of the part-time position have become full-time, may, by mutual agreement with the county commission, either return to part-time status or change to full-time status: Provided, That, if the decision to change to full-time or part-time status is made during an election year, the decision must be by mutual agreement between the county commission and the prosecutor-elect: Provided, however, That any prosecutor who returns to part-time status shall, thereafter, be compensated at the part-time rate of compensation set forth in section four of this article for a prosecuting attorney of his or her class county, and any prosecutor that changes to full-time status shall, thereafter, be compensated at the same rate of compensation established for a prosecuting attorney in a Class V county his or her class county, as set forth in section four of this article.
(c) If after the first day of January, two thousand nine, any prosecutor or prosecutor-elect desires to change to full-time status and the county commission objects to such change due to an alleged financial condition of the county, then either party may request the State Auditor's office to examine the county's financial condition and certify whether or not there are sufficient funds to support a full-time position. The State Auditor shall then, within ninety days of such request, certify whether or not there are sufficient funds available to support a full-time prosecutor in the county. If the State Auditor certifies that there are sufficient funds available, then the prosecutor or prosecutor elect must be changed to full-time status and be compensated at the same rate of pay as a prosecutor in a Class V county his or her class county, as set forth in section four of this article.
(d) Nothing in this section may be construed to prohibit a part-time prosecuting attorney from remaining part-time with the mutual agreement of the county commission.
§7-7-6b. Additional compensation of assessors according to county classification.
For the purpose of determining the additional compensation to be paid to the county assessor of each county for the additional duties provided by section six-a of this article, the following compensations for each county assessor by class, as provided in section three of this article, are hereby established and shall be used by each county commission in determining the compensation of each county assessor:
(1) For assessors in Class I - V III counties, inclusive, $15,000;
(2) For assessors in Class VI and VII IV counties, $10,000; and
(3) For assessors in Class VIII and IX V counties, $9,000.
for assessors in Class X counties, $6,500.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to reduce the number of classes of counties from ten to five.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.