MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Retention among employees of the city of Morgantown is raising concerns for at least one member of the city council. Fifth Ward representative Danielle Trumble said when two key members left the Finance Department, she called for an executive session to find out what has caused multiple employees to leave across several departments.

“I asked to have put on our agenda an executive session where council would have the opportunity to discuss with the administration some of the employee morale and retention issues we’re having, but that is not on the agenda,” Trumble said.

Trumble is a member of the National League of Cities (NLC) 2024 Human Development Federal Advocacy Committee and returned last weekend from a conference to learn there were additional resignations while she was gone. Some, but not all, of the open positions can be attributed to retirement, according to Trumble.

“I came back from California after seeing what I would call a pretty significant exodus from the Ambassador Program and Finance Department and learning of a couple more resignations in various departments while I was gone.”

The staffing concerns developed about a year ago when city officials had to turn to a private company to perform traffic control for downtown parades. City Manager Kim Haws later clarified they would prefer to use city employees for downtown events, and the private company proposal was a backup plan.

“When those issues are systemic and ongoing and they affect the city’s ability to provide quality services, as is our job, I think it does become a council issue, and that’s something the council should be willing to look into,” Trumble said.

Trumble said many departments in the city are managing the workload day-to-day. While appreciating the efforts to get the work done on behalf of residents in the city, Trumble recognized that the additional stress on existing workers can create burnout issues.

“I won’t say that’s the case for every single department, but certainly people are pretty busy, and it’s hard to get things done that aren’t an emergency right now.” Trumble said.

One of the purposes of moving to four, 10-hour days for city employees was to make the city of Morgantown an “employer of choice.” The new schedule was also touted as a way to compete with the private sector in a tight labor market. Four years later, Trumble said reactions from employees have been mixed. But she said the public has expressed the most displeasure about the new work schedule, especially this week when city workers will be on a two-day work week due to Juneteenth and the observance of West Virginia’s birthday.

“To the public who is trying to do business with the city or is expecting services from the city, I hear pretty constant frustration,” Trumble said.

Morgantown City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 18 in City Hall.

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