KEYSER - A group of nearly 20 county employees brought concerns to the Mineral County commissioners during their recent regular government meeting.

By Jean Braithwaite
Tribune Correspondent
KEYSER - A group of nearly 20 county employees brought concerns to the Mineral County commissioners during their recent regular government meeting.
The meeting was suggested weeks ago by Mary Lou Smith, the then courthouse employee representative, to seek information on the raises received by Luke McKenzie, the director of Mineral County Emergency Management and 911 Center, while other county employees received no additional compensation.
The county employees that presented questions and comments during the meeting did not want to give their names for publication in the Mineral Daily News Tribune, however, several asked when an election would be held to have a new employee representative.
Jerry Whisner, commission president, said that that election of a new employee representative would happen soon, giving an estimated time of sometime following the upcoming state’s general election.
Lauren Ellifritz, county clerk, said that the employees did not know of Smith’s decision to not stay on as the representative, or, “There would have been other nominations.”
One of the employees continued the subject of employee raises, and asked, “Why are we not getting one?”
Another employee said, “I like my job,” but added that she could go across the bridge to the Chat and Chew and “make almost what I make here.”
Whisner said of the employee raise, “You are not forgotten,” saying that this subject is talked about all the time.
Commissioner Roger Leatherman told the employees present that the commissioners are in favor of a raise, but the regional jail bill costs cause the revenue to go down.
He said that the jail bill has been down somewhat, but a recent bill showed it was back up.
County sheriff Jeremy Taylor said of the jail bill, “It is not any better this month,” as he added, “We took seven over to the jail,” all from one action.
Whisner said, “There is a light at the end of the tunnel,” explaining that he recently heard the legislature was taking over the regional jail bills, to have that money used to eliminate the inventory tax on state businesses.
He said the cost of $48.25 is charged per day per person at the regional jail.
Leatherman said the high costs of incarceration is a problem throughout the state, where communities have no choice but to lay off employees.
Whisner said “We have to look at the whole pie due to obligations,” while he added, “You employees do a great job.”
“We would not have a courthouse or county government with you,” he said to the employees.
The commissioners agreed a raise may be possible in the future as the county revenue increases.