City again talks employee residency

INFO SESSION — Weirton Council, department heads and other officials met in an informational work session Wednesday, discussing several topics currently before the city, including revisiting a proposal to expand the city’s employee residency requirements. -- Craig Howell

WEIRTON — Weirton Council met in an information session Wednesday, continuing discussion on a proposal to expand the city’s employee residency requirement, along with pay issues and possible projects in the city.

City Manager Joe DiBartolomeo had raised the issue during a previous work session, and on Wednesday, also suggested the possibility of an incentive program to attract employees or encourage training.

“We’ve got to be more creative,” DiBartolomeo said.

Public Works Director Rod Rosnick said he has some part-time employees who would not qualify for full-time jobs because of their residency.

Police Capt. Rick Stead said it is difficult to attract those interested in becoming police officers to Weirton with the residency requirement.

“Our problem is recruiting and getting people to come here,” Stead said, noting the last hiring class saw seven applicants.

Fire Chief Jerry Shumate agreed, saying while the city’s unemployment is 6.35 percent, the average age of current residents is 47.5 years old.

“The average age of the city is too old to be a police officer or firefighter,” Shumate said.

Parks Executive Director Coty Shingle said the available pool of hires has an effect on his department and Public Works.

“Rod and I are hiring people for jobs a 45-year-old can’t do,” Shingle said.

Mayor Harold Miller said another issue facing the city is differences in pay when compared to other communities or occupations in the region.

“We’re paying people $12 or $13 an hour, when they could get a job at $25 to $30 an hour,” Miller said.

DiBartolomeo also brought up an issue in which he said the city’s crossing guards were given pay increases without proper authorization.

“There was a memo that went out,” he said, explaining the memo, sent in December 2017, increased the pay for the city’s seven crossing guards from $17.40 per day to $25 per day.

DiBartolomeo said, to date, that has resulted in a payout of $6,000.

“I have no choice but to rescind the memo,” DiBartolomeo said, noting council could decide on an increase by amending the city’s pay ordinance.

The city’s crossing guards fall under the designation of the Weirton Police Department.

Stead said, while he understands the situation, the police department would like to see the pay levels continue.

“These ladies have been getting paid. We would like to see them continue to get paid,” he said.

Ward 3 Councilman Fred Marsh asked to see a listing of the crossing guards and their stations.

Ward 4 Councilman George Ash, however, wondered why it took so long for council to learn of the issue.

“My problem is we have department heads that could have told us,” Ash said.

Councilmembers in attendance agreed to consider an amendment to the pay ordinance at their October meeting.

“Twenty-five bucks a day shouldn’t bother anybody,” Ward 2 Councilman Mike Adams said.

(Howell can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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