Employees say city owes them back pay
By Liz Beavers
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - A Keyser Police officer says the city owes him some back pay as the result of a promise that was made and not kept.
Mayor Damon Tillman is saying that promise was made by the former administration, but he wants to make things right with the city employees.
The issue is one of the items scheduled for discussion during a special work session set for 6 p.m. Thursday in the council chambers.
Officer Jared Bruce brought the issue up to the Keyser City Council during their Aug. 26 meeting, asking that the discussion be kept in open session as opposed to behind closed doors in an executive session.
According to Bruce, the council had approved a new pay scale as far back as 2017, but the resultant raises were never enacted.
Once he started talking about back pay owed to him, however, other employees present for the meeting noted that they had not received money promised to them either.
“None of us has received that,” water distribution supervisor Teddy Nester said of the increases.
Council member Jennifer Junkins said part of the problem is that the new pay scale was not properly recorded.
“The copy of the chart was not attached to the minutes and were not put into the computer,” she said. “Nobody’s following the pay scale … It’s come to my attention … that over half of the employees are not getting paid at the correct rate.”
“Even the 2015 scale was never put into the minutes,” Tillman added.
According to Nester, a former council member made promises about the pay raises that never happened.
“Karol Ashenfelter went around and showed everybody’s raise they were going to get,” he said.
Council member Jim Hannas, who is also the city’s streets and sewer supervisor, said some of the discrepancies have been going on even earlier than 2017.
According to Hannas, when he passed training for his job in 2012, which normally came with a bump up in pay, “the city administrator at the time said that it was part of my job.”
Tillman said he feels the city needs to make things right for the employees, but “it’s going to hurt” financially.
“Just for Jim alone, that’s about $8,320 back pay,” he said of Hannas, adding, however, that “we’ve got to figure this out and we’ve got to get these people paid.
“This was done before (us), and we’ve got to correct the wrong,” he said.
The work session gets underway at 6 p.m. Thursday. Among the other items on the agenda to be discussed are the job description, hours and pay scale for a new city administrator and a discussion of City Hall employee job reconstruction, promotions and raises.