MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The ongoing dispute between the City of Morgantown and its firefighters over holiday pay is headed in a different direction.

According to a memo from City Manager Kim Haws, beginning Monday, a firefighter will be eligible for holiday pay equal to the length of his or her shift. The policy also creates a full bank of holiday hours at the beginning of each fiscal year. At the end of the fiscal year,  the remaining balance would be paid to the firefighter at the rate of time and a half.

Morgantown firefighters have been locked in a legal battle with the city over holiday pay for the last five years. Firefighters have claimed the city only pays them at the holiday rate for 16 hours of their 24-hour shift.

Haws said in the June 11 memo the new plan “nearly doubles the holiday benefit for firefighters, which required the City and Fire Department leadership to be creative in how to accommodate this unfunded mandate.”

The memo also said the changes required to fund the mandate are reducing crew sizes and increasing fire fees.

Minimum staffing requirements will drop from 15 to 13 saying,” It is not possible to provide the additional time off in addition to regular PTO leave and keep minimum manning at 15.” The policy states the Incident Commander in Chief “has the ability and is encouraged to call additional staff in as needed.”

According to the memo, the new policy will force the city to double the budget for holiday pay because it is not possible to predict the number of firefighters that will select time off over premium pay, and that number will likely change from year to year.

The memo also details plans to move the municipal pension to the state fireman’s pension. The change is the only way to meet financial
payment obligations to the Fire Pension and ensure all current employees and retirees get their pension. Haws goes on to say,” The legislature in recent years reopened the runway to make the change financially possible.” But, goes on to state the switch will also require another increase in fire fees.

The memo said the changes will be presented to city council.

The pension changes will only effect newly hired firefighters.

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