KEARNEYSVILLE – After several discussions and workshops over the past five weeks, the Jefferson County Commission adopted a new $26 million annual budget last week for county government starting July 1.
The coronavirus, however, could send commissioners back to the drawing board later to make adjustments to the fiscal 2021 budget.
The commission’s biggest budget concern was a shutdown of casinos across the state ordered by Gov. Jim Justice.
County gambling tax revenues from the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races are projected to generate $3.4 million for the 2021 budget year.
Justice said last week that he anticipated casinos across the state would be closed for two weeks. The horse racing track at Hollywood Casino wasn’t affected by the governor’s shutdown.
Earlier, to save money that might be needed in the upcoming budget because of a budget impact from coronavirus, the commission had already directed county department supervisors avoid “nonessential” expenses, including avoidable travel.
“The budget we’re approving today could be vastly different a few months from now,” said Commissioner Josh Compton.
“I think we all know that things will have to be modified over the year with the change in income,” Commissioner Ralph Lorenzetti said. “I think all of that is in the future. I’m sure [casino closure] is going to affect us somehow.”
The 2021 budget must be submitted to the State Auditor’s office for review by March 28. But commissioners said they had time to adjust the budget to recent coronavirus events over the next three months.
The county commission declared a state of emergency and closed county government offices to the public for in-person assistance until April 1. County staff is available by email and phone calls, and the commission will reevaluate whether to extend its efforts to respond to the virus outbreak before April 1.