Divided Marlinton Council Approves Wage Increase
Marlinton, WV – Marlinton town employees will receive a pay raise but not as much as Mayor Joe Smith wanted. Council debated the issue during its regular meeting on November 7.
Mayor Joe Smith proposed pay raises for 10 hourly employees that averaged 4.75 percent, and a 6.7 percent raise in salary for the town building inspector/town judge. The mayor’s proposal would cost the town approximately $12,500 per year.
A council committee, chaired by councilmember David Zorn, recommended an average pay raise of 2.6 percent for hourly employees and no increase for the building inspector/town judge. The committee proposal would cost the town an estimated $7,320 per year. Mayor Joe Smith says the town included money in its fiscal year budget for the raises.
“In June, when we did the budget, we budgeted for an amount of money to give pay raises, which amounted to $6.01 per hour, and I feel that that money was budgeted for and we ought to give those raises as I have them broke down,” he said.
Zorn says a smaller raise was justified by rising utility costs and the current economic condition.
“My opinion – if we’re up for discussion- is – I’d like to see those guys get all the money they can get,” he said. “My issue is – we are stewards of the taxpayer’s money. We are responsible for how we spend their money. I bet if you could find five people in town that got as much as a five-percent raise this year, you’d be doing good. So, we’re asking those people in town to give. We just asked them for more water money and we might be asking them for more garbage money – and ask these people in town who have not received wage increases themselves to give town employees a considerable raise.”
Councilmember Norris Long speaks in support of the mayor’s larger pay increase.
“I haven’t received a raise in three years, either, thank to the government – the federal government,” he said. “I get a generous three-percent raise this year. With that in mind, I stand with Joe on his proposal.”
Council voted 4-2 to approve the committee’s smaller wage increase, plus an additional 25-cent per hour raise for an employee who received a work-related certification. Long and councilmember Loretta Malcomb voted nay.
Council conducted a second reading and voted 6-0 to approve a new town animal ordinance. The ordinance, which is now in effect, proscribes how owners must house, maintain and control their animals within the town limits. Violations can result in fines as much as $500 and a jail term of up to 30 days.
Smith said the Mayor’s office would deal with violations, initially, but transfer action to the town judge if further legal action was necessary.
Gail Hyer, representing the Pocahontas County Historical Society and community improvement group GoMarlinton, read a letter thanking council for its support of the Smithsonian historical exhibit, The Way We Worked. Hyer reads an excerpt of the letter.
“Thank you to the town crew, to the mayor and to each of the town council members, who helped make this an experience that many people will remember for a very long time,” she said. “We could not have done it without you. Cordially and with great appreciation, the Smithsonian The Way We Worked team.”
Smith thanked organizers and supporters of the Smithsonian exhibit and gave credit to former Mayor Dennis Driscoll’s administration for allowing the use of the municipal building. Smith said the exhibit drew a constant stream of visitors from across the state.
“It was a great thing,” he said. “I talked to several people, coming and going. You had to be here to see the fluctuation of people that was coming from all over West Virginia, not just Pocahontas County.”
In other business, Marlinton council voted 6-0 to approve a budget revision to make a $1,500 donation to McClintic Library.
The next regular Marlinton council meeting is scheduled for December 5, 7 p.m. at the municipal building.