Council panel to consider wages

PARKERSBURG – A pay increase for municipal employees will be considered at a City Council Personnel Committee meeting Wednesday.

During Parkersburg’s budget hearings in February, Mayor Bob Newell said he would wait to propose wage adjustments until after the start of the 2014-15 fiscal year, when the city would have a better idea of how close it was to meeting the projected $1.1 million carryover. Final numbers were still being worked on Monday, but the mayor said he anticipates taking to council an across-the-board increase in the neighborhood of 2.5 percent.

“We’ve got a pretty good handle on it (the carryover) now,” Newell said. “We know that we’re going to have some money, enough to talk about wages.”

City officials must also make sure any pay increase can be paid for beyond the current year, he said.

“Just ’cause we have extra money doesn’t mean we can just assign it to anything that we want,” Newell said.

Councilwoman Sharon Lynch, who chairs the Personnel Committee, said the Finance Department has been conducting salary surveys with cities similar in size to Parkersburg.

“What we’re going to propose will be a very fair amount compared with what they pay in other cities,” she said.

The idea is to get salaries that are based on the specific job and its responsibilities, Lynch said.

“You base your salary on the position, not the person in the position,” she said.

Councilman John Kelly said outside of the budget hearings that he thought employee pay should have been addressed in the budget. Newell offered possible pay increases on the night of the final budget vote, but council members did not act on them, with Kelly saying he hadn’t been given enough time to digest the information.

On Monday, Kelly said he would prefer a set amount added to employees’ salaries rather than a percentage. That would give everyone a raise but be more of a benefit to the folks making less money.

“They need that support a whole lot more than the people at the top do,” he said.

Kelly, who is not a member of the Personnel Committee, said he would likely share his thoughts at Wednesday’s meeting.

“Either way it goes, I’m not going to fight that very much,” he said. “I’ll most likely support whatever comes out of the committee.”