Mon County Commission approves $1,500 pay adjustment for county employees, discusses DOH plans for Harmony Grove

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Monongalia County Commission approves another pay adjustment for county employees and endorses plans for the Harmony Grove interchange.

The $1,500 adjustment for employees will account for full-time county employees that were hired between the approval of the three percent increase in pay in March 2022 up to the beginning of 2023. The adjustment allows for employees who were unable to take advantage of the pay raise after they were hired to be able to do so, bringing their wages to comparable levels with other full-time employees.

“We had said that we were looking at our carry-over in regards to salary adjustments, and we feel that it’s fairly fair,” said Commissioner Sean Sikora on the adjustments.

This follows the three percent pay raise that was approved for all full-time county employees in 2022. In that original pay raise, all full-time employees received a minimum $1,500 across-the-board pay raise that also included a $1,000 increase for part-time employees. With the new adjustment, not only are all full-time employees on a similar pay scale, but it also maintains a consistent history of pay raise approvals by the commission that began over half a decade ago.

“Every year I’ve been here, we’ve given the employees something, so we certainly wanted to take care of the employees that take care of us,” said Sikora.

The aim of this new pay adjustment, much like the original pay raise, is to retain and maintain the staffing that the county has to provide local services. These efforts also included a remodeled pay structure for the Monongalia County Sheriff’s Office and the maintenance of full coverage of health care and benefit costs up until this year due to inflation costs. The Commission has also approved the maintenance of health savings plans for high-deductible employees, which are funded up to $2,000 per employee. While county workers are expected to pay no more than $17 per plan, the commission is hopeful the pay adjustment will offset any extra costs.

“It goes to show how much we appreciate and depend on our employees, and when we can do it, we’re glad to do it,” said Commissioner Jeff Arnett on the pay raises that can cost supplements passed over the course of several years. “There was a little bit of an uptick in health insurance this year, so I’m glad we’re able to absorb that, employees are sharing in that a bit, and I’m glad we could help that with this pay increase,” he said.

Commission President Tom Bloom also addressed the West Virginia Department of Highways (DOH) plan to decide on three options to improve access to the Morgantown Industrial Park ahead of the proposed I-79 Harmony Grove Interchange. He stated that the Morgantown-Monongalia Metropolitan Planning Organization (MMPO) has discussed plans with the DOH that would involve the construction of either a new bridge south of the Westover Bridge or a bridge that would cross the Monongahela River south of the Morgantown Lock and north of the BFS Gas Station on Don Knotts Boulevard. Bloom stated that this is aimed at supporting the Mountaintop Beverage facility at Harmony Grove and will not affect plans for the interchange.

“And that’s what I think we need to make very clear that the county commissioners were adamant on—the bridges are not in the vicinity of the Harmony Grove interchange,” said Bloom. “It is actually in addition to the two options, and this is for the MMPO to make that decision,” he said.

The MMPO is scheduled to discuss the options with the DOH at their regular meeting in August.