Benwood Considers Worker Appearance

BENWOOD – Benwood City Council wants city employees to keep their hair and beards trimmed, and this week they will consider legislation to enact a “grooming and appearance” policy for their workers.

Council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday, and the ordinance pertaining to employee neatness is on the agenda.

The city has 32 workers – including service workers, police officers and office staff – though the issue of any of their appearances hasn’t been a concern, according to Mayor Ed Kuca. Benwood, however, doesn’t have any policy pertaining to how employees should present themselves to the public, and council members believe a stated ordinance on the issue should be in place.

“We’ve been wanting to do this for a good while,” he said. “We want to make sure all employees look nice and neat, and are presentable. … We just want to make sure their hair is groomed properly, and that there are no big, long beards. We want to make sure they are clean and presentable whenever citizens need their services. We thought it would make a really nice atmosphere for Benwood for us to adopt that.”

The city pays for any uniforms needed by their employees – including boots, pants shirts and hats -as well as the dry cleaning of the uniforms.

“We’ve been doing that for a good many years,” Kuca said.

Also on council’s agenda for Tuesday will be a discussion of an increase in the rates for pool passes for the Benwood Pool.

Council also will discuss ordinances to increase the pay for City Clerk Judy Hunt and Police Chief Frank Longwell to new rates set under West Virginia law, though council already approved an annual budget containing the higher wages at their last council meeting March 11.

The new budget includes a $6,157 yearly pay raise Longwell, whose salary will increase from $45,900 to $52,057 annually. Hunt will receive a $1.50-per-hour wage bump, moving her yearly salary from $40,103 to $43,225. All city workers will get a $1 an hour pay raise.

Benwood’s general fund budget for the 2015 fiscal year is $3,651,328 – an increase of $358,717 over this year’s budget of $3,292,611.