Moundsville City Manager Deanna Hess said city employees can look forward to pay raises for the first time in more than three years, but it remains to be determined how much each employee will receive.
"You are allotting me money to give raises," Hess said to City Council members during a workshop Wednesday. "I am going to make sure that I'm being fair."
"How are we going to do these raises?" asked Councilman David Wood. "Is there a criteria?"
"We're going to sit down with department heads and look at each employee and go from there," Hess said. "We will see what is fit to be given based on job performance, work time, call-off times and absentee days."
When Wood asked Hess whether department heads will formally evaluate their workers, Hess was not sure. Wood said there should be a formal system of evaluation to determine raise eligibility.
"I'm not questioning who gets what, just how," Wood said.
Kay Goddard, an attorney and certified public accountant contracted by the city, said the proposed budget calls for paying part-time employees about 25 cents more per hour, while full-time workers could get around 50 cents in additional hourly pay. Department heads could get $2 more per hour.
Goddard stressed, however, that these numbers are not concrete. She said they are estimated wage increases used to develop the budget.
"We came up with a fair percent to have something to go on," Goddard said. "It's just there to estimate the ballpark amount."
Wood urged the city manager and finance department to record their reasons for approving or denying raises to various employees. He said this could help avoid accusations of discrimination or bias.
"If somebody questions (wage changes), make sure to document why," Wood said. "I'm a big believer of putting it on paper."
Goddard responded that she has worked with few people who take more notes than Hess.
Council members also struggled to agree on how money for firefighting services should be spent.
Hess pointed to $18,000 in the proposed budget that is earmarked for purchase of a new fire truck for the City of Moundsville Fire Department, which employs paid firefighters who man the station on weekdays. The budget proposal also includes a $6,000 increase for contracted services from the Moundsville Volunteer Fire Department.
"I find it hard to justify buying a truck for a fire department that only operates 8-4, Monday through Friday," said Councilwoman Ginger DeWitt.
Councilman David Haynes said he would rather see the $6,000 put toward wage increases for City of Moundsville Fire Department employees. He also would like to see the VFD three-year contract extended to five years without increasing the amount the VFD is paid.
Councilman Phil Remke asked Hess when the amount allotted for the VFD was last increased. She said it has been three years.
By the end of the meeting, attendees said they felt the overall budget was fair, regardless of the disagreement about fire service.
Mayor Eugene Saunders asked Hess to bring the budget before the March 19 council meeting to be either approved or rejected.