Council discusses wages
As the Sistersville Council meeting Monday evening started with the public forum, tensions immediately started to rise as city employee Paul Southerly took the floor.
His primary complaint was set wages. Southerly stated that with the departure of two other employees, he was confused as to why the city was able to hire a part-time employee, yet his own requests for a 25-cent raise were only to be consistently delayed.
Mayor Bill Rice responded that he did not set wages for city employees; Southerly said he was aware of that particular fact. Rice stated since he is now the mayor and he has a finance committee, they are trying to get some type of consistency as to what they will be paying in wages. In addition, Rice also stated he had nothing to do with the old regime, adding that half the time, though he was a councilman, he did not know who worked for the city.
Southerly expressed that all he had been doing is waiting, and he is unable to understand how they were able to have new hires while not giving him a little bit more. Rice said they had not hired someone in a while.
Southerly countered that they had hired Alex King as a part-time employee.
Rice countered with, “Let me tell you something. You don’t have a clue what the last few months have been like for us, and trying to get things straightened up and we would like to give everyone a pay raise across the board.”
Councilman Harold Dally mentioned that King was not hired on as a part-time employee, but as a temporary employee. Rice went on to explain that King has been assisting with getting grants, and he has also been helping in getting money for the ferry.
As the discussion continued, Southerly went on to state that his wage was $7.75. Rice then asked if Southerly had accepted the job at $7.75 per hour. Southerly answered with the claim that he was ensured a wage increase after the first 90 days. When questioned about his hire date, he answered that he had been employed by the city for more than eight years. When Rice said that he (Southerly) should have talked to someone by now, he (Southerly) stated that he had been, saying that all he had been hearing was that they were going to try, which Rice responded his assertion that they are trying.
It was noted that his (Southerly’s) situation would be discussed later on, but not at that present time.
Upon Southerly’s departure from the meeting, Rice looked around and asked if there were any others with anything to say in public forum. In response, Todd Tippins took the floor. Tippins stated that he knew it had already been discussed, but mentioned the fire hydrants, saying they needed to be updated with parking restrictions. West Virginia code calls for clearance of 15 feet in either direction and 10 feet from any stop sign.
He went on to explain that getting in and out of the street where he lives, and the bus trying to get in and out, is a “nightmare”. He also stated he understands they cannot paint the curbs to restrict parking now because of the weather. Rice stated it is something they intend to take care of as soon as possible.
Upon the discussion of the approval of bills, the hospital bills for December and payroll were approved. P card charges were also approved, along with outstanding bills. Two insurance policies were renewed, both for the Sistersville Volunteer Fire Department. Sistersville Councilman Mark Klages inquired if the insurance policies were yearly, or quarterly. Rice asked Councilman Phil Konopacky if he knew, which he said he didn’t, but he could find out. It was later discovered the policies are quarterly.
Employee sick days were also discussed. Rice said, “I would like to ask council to move the employees sick days, that they be carried over a year from 30 to 60 days and the reason being is because we have some really good employees, that never miss and every year they lose a certain amount of sick days.” It was approved.
Ferry bills were another topic of discussion. The next ferry meeting is set for Jan. 20. Letters were sent to Governor Earl Ray Tomlin and local legislators. There is an effort being made to see about funding from the port authority for fuel and wages for the next year. Mayor Rice suggested that council members attend the ferry meeting since it was “coming down to crunch time.”
After the ferry insurance is paid, there is a total of $844 in the ferry fund. The next insurance is due in April. Rice noted that something needed to be done and fast. He also stated that it wasn’t that they weren’t wanting to start it back up, but funding is the issue. Klages stated that the total revenue for the ferry were $82,873.27 and the total expenses for the ferry were $123,028.77. Rice said if they do not raise enough money, they may not be able to open it.
The West Virginia Auxiliary of Wives Behind the Badge is holding a supportive initiative for law enforcement. It will be held Feb. 19 and it will involve businesses and residents showing their support by wearing blue and showcasing blue bows in their windows. There will about 100 bows available to purchase. For more information, Valerie Northcraft can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 304-771-9575.
Audist Pancake notified council that they will be accepting employment applications starting in February for the Park and Pool.
With the verification that there were no actual documents stating that Hubbard Park could only be sold if it stayed a park, it was ruled there would be no issues selling Hubbard Park and using proceeds from the sale to finance the building of the Splash Pad. It was approved, and the sale will take place on the courthouse steps on Feb. 21.
There was also mention that the construction on the library roof was completed.