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Questions raised about supplemental pay for health department employees

MORGANTOWN — A $100,000 allocation made by the Monongalia County Commission in December to be distributed as one-time supplemental pay to employees of the Monongalia County Health Department has yet to reach those employees.

Further, employees who worked through 2021 but have since left MCHD may never receive the payout despite the commission’s explanation that the money was provided in “appreciation for their tireless support through this pandemic.”

This issue came to light Wednesday by way of an anonymous letter included in the correspondence portion of the commission’s regular meeting.

The letter questions why former MCHD employees who worked through 2021 are being told they don’t qualify for the supplemental pay.

Members of the commission discussed the matter with MCHD leadership immediately following Wednesday’s meeting.

Commissioner Sean Sikora explained that the payout has been delayed because MCHD didn’t distribute the money to employees, but instead used it as a local match for a grant through the CDC that is expected to provide additional funding for employee incentives.

According to information provided by MCHD, the CDC grant will provide an additional $89,418.00, which is expected to provide between $735.00 and $1,500.00 per employee.

“Well, it took a little longer than they expected, so they just finally got all the paperwork together and submitted their request to the department of personnel, who will have it on their agenda in the April meeting, and then they’ll finally be able to do the incentive action with their employees,” Sikora said.

MCHD employees are technically employed by the state, meaning such incentives need the approval of both the county board of health and the West Virginia Department of Personnel.

As for former employees, Sikora said it is believed there are three individuals who would fall into the above scenario.  

“So the health department is looking into that for us. We understand their good intent to try to make our dollars go further. I think everybody was working to do a good thing. It’s just that maybe a few people fell through the cracks, and we’re really researching how we might be able to address that,” he said.

“I can’t say there’s a good solution on the horizon, but again, I don’t think anybody intended this to take this long and have what we wanted to do not go into effect.”

The commission provided $100,000 to MCHD for distribution to employees in December 2020 as well.

According to MCHD Chief Financial Officer Devan Smith, the pay will be distributed during the first week of May, pending department of personnel approval on April 28.

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