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A big day in Belmont: Legislators set to debate and vote on pay increases

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The Committee of the Whole starts at 10am

By Andrew Harris

Clerk of the Board sent an announcement that a special meeting of the Committee of the Whole(COW,) but tempered the news of the public meeting: “It is my understanding that the meeting will be held in executive session to discuss the employment history and matters leading to the promotion of a particular individual.”

That COW meeting will undoubtably include a preview of the debate expected to unfold in open session. The question before legislators later in the day will be pay raises for some of the top jobs in Allegany County.

Those pay raises have created two general arguments:

The first is that pay raises for non-union staff, largely department heads, directors, and deputies is the only way to retain experienced human resources. The labor market has dramatically changed since the pandemic and unless Allegany county reacts to the changes now, the reality of a mass exodus of talent must be considered. Those who would like this pay raise approved also point to a timeline which requires this approval by the board immediately or miss a statutory deadline. That would push the pay raises in question into 2024.

Opposing that argument are those who feel that the increase in pay will ultimately exasperate the county finances and potentially result in a even higher property taxes. Those voices also take exception to the blanket approach to the pay increases which do not consider time of service and other factors typically considered when giving staff a pay raise. Opposition to the pay increase are wondering aloud how the unionized labor force in the county will react.

County employees who are members of a union and have a contract in place are watching closely. Based on the current union contracts in place, the largest union raise in 2023 will be 3%. The average increase in pay among the department heads/directors/deputies is nearly 15%.

Wellsville Sun readers have been voting on the subject, framed by the main impetus for the proposal: Inflation. After only two days of voting, over 770 have chimed in. 61% of votes cast so far are in favor of the pay increase as a matter of retaining staff. 39% are opposed to the increase in pay because Allegany County already has a property tax problem.

The public can tune into today’s full board meeting to listen to the debate and watch the vote at 2pm. Visit the Allegany County Facebook streaming video page.

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