New Martinsville Council has approved wage increases for all full-time city employees, to become effective Dec. 1.
The measure was actually approved at two different special council meetings. During a special meeting on Friday, July 12, at 5 p.m., council approved an upgrade of police officer positions and three percent for all other full-time city employees. That motion carried unanimously, council members Kay Goddard and Steve Pallisco were absent.
Then a second special council meeting was held Thursday, July 25, immediately after a police committee meeting at 5 p.m. At those meetings Police Chief Tim Cecil presented a revised police wage proposal. It put the base wage for all current officers at $35,500 with the captain's position receiving an additional $6,000 and the two sergeants each getting an additional $3,000. Any new patrolmen will be hired in at a base rate of $31,000 (non-certified) and $33,500 (certified); their rate will increase $1,000 per year until the base rate is reached.
"This is a fair proposal for everybody up there," Cecil told council. He admitted that his first, approved, proposal did not take some factors, such as longevity, into account. In the beginning he was only looking at what it would take to get new patrolman to come to the city's police force.
"It'll fix the problem upstairs and it's somewhat easy on our budget," commented Pallisco. "It's needed."
For months the city has been talking about their inability to get or keep officers because of their relatively low salary (a base of $31,116). They are currently looking at a need to hire four new officers. Cecil currently has six prospective hires.
The chief''s proposal was approved unanimously. Goddard and Councilman Chris Bachman were not present.
The rates will take effect Dec. 1, after the increased business and occupation taxes will begin to come in after Sept. 30. Pallisco pointed out that with a Dec. 1 commencement, the city is not spending money before they have it.
Before the rate increase, the B&O tax brought in $775,00 per year. The increased rates are approximately 25 percent higher, though the rates and changes vary by category.
The salary increase will cost the city, roughly, $27,383 for police officers; $67,321 from general fund; $21,000 from the water and sewer department (a separate budget); and $14,000 from the electric department (a separate budget).