The city’s statement on employee pay
The City of Morgantown has been the center of attention lately over its personnel policies. While we generally don’t comment on such matters in the public, we believe these facts will contribute to the discussion.
The city provides some of the best employment benefits in the state. Full-time employees are eligible for a generous pension, a minimum of four weeks of paid time off and 13 paid holidays, free life insurance and short/long-term disability coverage, longevity increases and parental leave. Our health, vision and dental plans combined currently start at an employee premium of $17.77 per paycheck, which I would argue is one of the lowest in the state. The city also recently provided a $1,000 retention incentive to every employee and will provide a second one in December.
The city’s pay plan was recently updated using a compensation study conducted by a nationally recognized and independent company, making wages competitive with comparable communities and equitable between all positions and departments. The pay plan now provides wages based on required duties and skills and gives a clear plan of expected increases in pay. We also provided a cost-of-living adjustment, which we have done six times in the last seven years.
City administration also began enforcing existing rules and updated policies to keep overtime limited to “emergencies.” Those updates allow for accurate budgets that are transparent and let employees know what they can expect to earn. It is also an important step in the city’s effort to be fair to all employees, who must share in the same limited funding from our annual budget.
We value our employees, and we believe most of them are happily employed and feel appreciated. We strive to be an employer of choice. We understand change can be difficult, but it is the administration’s job to be financially responsible with taxpayer money and prepare a budget that is equitable and clear about how public employees are compensated.
Morgantown City Manager
Times have changed — and that’s a good thing
When I was in the fourth grade, my teacher told our class it was OK that white settlers killed Indians and moved onto their land because whites’ brains were more developed and they were more deserving. That sort of indoctrination may be shocking now, but it wasn’t in the 1960s. We have changed — and for the better.
My wife and I sent six children to the public schools here in Monongalia County. When our children were young, we did not tell their teachers that their mothers were gay. Our children often didn’t feel safe or comfortable talking about their family in school.
They are all grown now, some with children of their own. Like all parents, we’re proud of our children and grandchildren. And we’re especially happy some of them have chosen to remain close to home and that our grandchildren have access to the same fine school system.
All children have the right to be welcomed in school and to celebrate who they and their families are. That’s not in any way a political issue.
We are in a time of tremendous struggle in our country. There is a loud minority clamoring to go back to a society that puts one group above all others, shames anyone who does not conform and punishes those who seek justice. Giving in to their demands encourages and empowers them.
It’s beyond wrong for our school board to censor messages of inclusion and belonging in the classroom. We don’t prohibit teachers from wearing a U.S. flag pin, Christmas tree earrings or even a Pitt jersey in school. Stand up for inclusion, tolerance and free speech.
To make the city better, participate in local gov’t
The historical novel, “A Tale of Two Cities,” written by Charles Dickens and published in 1859, begins with the often-quoted phrase, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness …”
These same words might describe our own City of Morgantown during this tumultuous period, notably beginning with the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020. We have seen a time of both rapid gains and, not unexpectedly, growing pains in the sectors of traffic, housing, health care, road improvements and new industries, along with significant losses in local businesses — especially Mylan Pharmaceuticals — and city first responders, as well as declines in enrollment at WVU, just to highlight a few of the events.
These economic and local ups and downs have induced stressful times — if not direct conflict — among our citizens, city employees and leadership under our city council and manager. Much strife has arisen from changes and implementation in long standing city personnel policies.
Your input and citizen engagement are absolutely vital in promoting equitable city governance, as noted in recent Dominion Post editorials and letters to the editor.
What can you do to promote a better Morgantown living space? Contact your city officials and councilors when you recognize problems or issues in current or proposed policies and services. You can find many forms to do so on the MorgantownWV.gov website.
City council meetings are always open for public input. For direct involvement, attend or join one of the many city commissions and boards, which include volunteer city residents by ward representation and/or nonresidents.
Finally, no one can dispute the power underlying your right to vote during elections for councilors and referendums regarding levies and changes to the city charter. Power to the people!
The Pride flag is about acceptance, not politics
Last week, Monongalia County Schools notified educators of a decision requiring them to remove Pride flags from Morgantown-area schools, deeming the flag a political symbol.
Rather than embracing opportunities to diversify learning environments, the board chose to give an outlet to hate and oppression. The Pride flag is not a political symbol, and if you consider it as such, it’s because you yourself have deemed it political.
As a queer youth raised in Appalachia, Morgantown is the only place in this state that I have ever felt a true sense of welcome in my community.
Attending high school in southern West Virginia, I neglected my own identity and was unfair to myself and my own growth. I opted to come out to friends and family close to my graduation to avoid feeling unsafe in “learning environments.” This is a story all too common for LGBTQ+ youth in our state.
The Pride flag is not political. For me as a queer man, it is a symbol of hope and of welcome. It is a sign that I have entered a safe space and am welcome to exist as myself. The flag is a reminder that I am viewed as an active participant in a society that has gate-kept those who share my identity for far too long.
Monongalia County Schools has taken that signal, which indicates warmth and welcome, away from our most at-risk youth. Instead, it has chosen to advocate for policies that set us back, shut out the full potential of our students and force them into the shadows in favor of a white-washed vision of our community. It has sent a message that we are not welcome here.
Imagine how much we could accomplish if all the effort we directed toward hate and oppression were instead directed toward love and compassion.
Elites don’t understand the immigration problem
Thank God for Gov. Abbott of Texas and Gov. DeSantis of Florida. These people are doing the right thing by sending these migrants from other countries to the areas where the elites and wealthy live in this country.
The wealthy in this country do not want these migrants living in their neighborhoods, but it is OK to overrun other cities that are already having difficulty financially.
Many American people, including veterans, are living out of their vehicles or on the streets of this once great country. Where is the outcry from the citizens of this country when their fellow citizens are being overlooked in favor of thousands of migrants swarming across the southern border? National security forgotten.
The president in the White House and the Democrats in Congress will say or do anything to keep their power, and the American people believe anything they are told.
What is really sad is that there are too many people in our government who lie every time they open their mouths, no matter what the subject is about. This is a fault of both Democrats and Republicans.
My thought is, had former President Donald Trump run around the country for a year-and-a-half using the word “free,” he would have won the 2020 election hands down.
Renewables the future of economic growth
Many thanks to David Beard and The Dominion Post for the Sept. 14 article “Century Aluminum land to be bought for $500M investment.” This investment by Berkshire Hathaway Renewables to create a 100% renewable energy-based microgrid/industrial complex that could support energy intensive industries is a dream come true for West Virginia.
The first company to be located in the complex, Precision Castparts Corp., a titanium metal casting company, typifies energy intensive sectors such as steel, glass, chemicals, wood products and aluminum that traditionally were the backbone of West Virginia’s manufacturing sectors.
Opportunities for these and other companies to transition to 100% renewable energy is a huge step into the future for the state and we can be very proud of West Virginia Sen. Glenn Jeffries, the West Virginia Development Office, the West Virginia Economic Development Authority and all who worked together to enable this very timely and exciting opportunity.