KEYSER – The Keyser City Council will continue to meet on its regular schedule, the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month.

By Richard Kerns

Tribune Staff Writer

KEYSER – The Keyser City Council will continue to meet on its regular schedule, the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month.

Meeting last week, the Council considered changing its meeting day to Tuesday, to better accommodate the work schedule of member Clint Faulk, who has missed numerous meetings since starting a new job with CSX late last summer.

Members of the Council, though, said altering the meeting night would open a can of worms, with other members perhaps seeking a change in the future to meet their personal needs.

“If you change it for one, you'll have to keep changing it,” said Council member Jennifer Junkins.

Last week's Council meeting was changed to Tuesday, however, Faulk was again not in attendance due to work-related issues, Mayor Ed Miller said.

With Councilman Terry Liller also absent to attend Mineral Day in Charleston, the Council last week lacked a quorum and was unable to attend to most of the items on its lengthy agenda – with the Council having not met since early December because of the holidays. However, Liller briefly participated by phone, allowing the Council to approve a new policy that will provide an additional $2 an hour to city employees who do not participate in the city's health insurance plan.

As a result of Obamacare, all adults must have health insurance or face a significant tax penalty. In the case of city employment, those opting out of the city plan – which provides individual coverage only, not family coverage – usually have coverage through a spouse.

City Administrator Randy Amtower said those who do not take the insurance save the city money, and should be compensated with a “payment in lieu” of insurance. He said the $2 an hour figure represents about 65 percent of the savings the city will realize when an employee opts out of coverage.

Council members were divided on the issue, but approved the payment as a way to make city employment more competitive with other area employers. “We always have difficulty being competitive,” Liller said by phone. “This will help us be competitive.”

The Council also approved a bid of $9,000 for an auditing firm to complete two audits for the city. The second audit – which accounts for $3,000 of the bid price – is required by the federal government as part of the extensive public works projects ongoing or recently completed in Keyser.

“It's kind of a rip-off but we can't get around it,” Amtower said.

The Council will next meet Wednesday, Jan. 27.