File photo.

Buckhannon waste collection board approves raises for employees

BUCKHANNON – When the City of Buckhannon Waste Collection Board approved a 50-cent-per-hour raise for its employees during a special session on Aug. 2, 2022, Buckhannon Mayor Robert Skinner said he was pleased with the decision to approve the raises and noted that officials are currently evaluating salaries city-wide.

During Thursday’s board meeting, members voted unanimously to increase Buckhannon Waste Collection employees’ salaries according to the recommendation made by the Revenue Review Committee.

Skinner, who attended Thursday’s meeting virtually, said the Revenue and Expense Committee met several times.

“Each board has representation on this committee, and we have been looking at wages — with Barb and Amberle’s assistance and guidance — for every department in the City of Buckhannon, including all of our enterprise boards,” Skinner said. “The Waste Board is the first board to consider the recommendations. This is going to be substantial across every department in the city. We have put a lot of work into deciding what to recommend everywhere.”

Skinner then asked Amberle Jenkins, assistant recorder and director of finance and administration for the City of Buckhannon, to give each Waste Collection Board member a printout of the proposed wage increases.

“The first column under their name has the proposed pay scale for them,” Jenkins said. “I count in holidays, overtime and benefits in that number. Also, part of the office staff is paid through this department as well.”

Jenkins said the impact on the budget for the rate increases is about $150,000 per year. She said the increases in the Waste Collection department are larger in part because of the difficulty finding drivers.

“When you compare this department to other areas, this department was underpaid,” Jenkins said.

Councilman CJ Rylands asked if funds would be transferred to the department from sales tax revenue.

“No,” Skinner said. “The Revenue Review Committee had discussions, and we do not want to go down the road of infusing our enterprise boards with that money.”

Jenkins said the city utilities need to be self-sustaining.

“Utilities need to sustain themselves – they do not need to be supplemented,” Jenkins said, and Rylands then asked where the revenue for the raises would come from.

“So, they (the Revenue Review Committee) determined this is the expense – how do they get the revenue to pay for it?” questioned Rylands.

Jenkins replied that the waste collection department is strong financially, but the board needs to be mindful of fuel surcharge increases.

“The revenue has been coming in – this department has been in a better condition than it has ever been,” Jenkins said. “With that being said, we did not do a rate increase this year. This board needs to be cognizant that when the Public Service Commission passes fuel surcharges on to us, we need to accept them. They actually had an automatic increase because of costs and inflation that the PSC would have accepted, and this board did not accept that last year either.”

Jenkins said the revenues are doing better because of the toters.

“People that are putting garbage out are paying for it,” Jenkins said. “I think that reduced the garbage.”

Rylands said he felt the raises looked reasonable and made a motion to accept the proposed employee raises, and the motion received a second from Scott Randall. The motion was approved unanimously.

Also during Thursday’s Waste Collection Board meeting, city recorder Randy Sanders reminded folks the Upshur County Solid Waste Authority is sponsoring a free paper shred event Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, from 9 a.m. to noon, across from the Transfer Station at 395 Mud Lick Road in Buckhannon.

Additional information about the free paper shred event is available by calling director Belinda Lewis at 814-327-5218.

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