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Council discusses employee policy

by Jim Fisher

STAFF WRITER

CLARKSBURG -- City Council discussed Thursday creating a formal policy regarding city employees who may be called to active military duty in the National Guard or Reserves.

Personnel Director James Marino told Council he put together a packet for the city's four employees who could be called up. The packet contains information on the responsibilities and obligations of the city and the employees.

Marino said he contacted city leaders in several other Class I and Class II cities, such as Wheeling, Bridgeport and Morgantown. He told Council the proposed Clarksburg policy closely mirrors other cities' policies, with one notable exception.

If the employee's salary will be lower when called to active duty, the city will pick up the difference, Marino said.

"We're the only city proposing to make up the shortfall," Marino said. "I think it's important to get a formal policy in place, so if they're called up, they'll know what their responsibilities are and what the city will do for them while they're gone."

Council agreed a policy was necessary, and Councilman Jim Hunt said he believed it was especially important for the city to provide the shortfall in salary.

"The only times they are called are in times of war or emergency," Hunt said. "I think it's the city's responsibility, like it or not, to share in the burden. It's not fair to employees who have taken it upon themselves to defend this country, for their families to have a lower standard of living because of it."

The policy will be on the agenda for the next City Council meeting, slated for Thursday.

City Council also discussed a request Thursday from Police Chief John Walker to rearrange the budget of the Police Fine Escrow Fund to free up about $16,000 to purchase a truck for the Special Response Team.

The fund gets money from fines handed down by the police judge and is set aside for departmental use. Walker told council members he had gone through the budget and eliminated some items he did not believe would be necessary this year to purchase the truck.

Walker also requested that Council waive competitive bidding on the truck.

Walker said the truck will be multipurpose. Not only will the Special Response Team be able to use the truck to store equipment, but it can be used at DUI checkpoints and as a mobile command post, he said.

Hunt said he supported the idea, but cautioned that the city's fleet of vehicles may be getting too large.

"Things are cyclic, and there's going to come a time when we're going to have to make cutbacks," he said. "When that time comes, I don't want to have 10 special use vehicles sitting empty and police officers without cruisers."

The requests will be considered at the next City Council meeting.

Staff writer Jim Fisher can be reached at 626-1446 or by e-mail at jfisher@exponent-telegram.com

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