UPDATE: Charleston asks for ‘hero pay’ for City’s first responders, County responds

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Mayor Amy Goodwin-Schuler at COVID-19 Briefing in Charleston, WV March 13, 2020 (WOWK 13 News Staff Photo)

UPDATE, APRIL 11, 4:25 p.m.: Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango responded to Goodwin’s letter, saying the Commission appreciates her tireless efforts to advocate for first responders and front-line employees of the City of Charleston.

“This morning, I requested that this issue be placed on our next Commission Meeting Agenda as a discussion regarding the Block Grant Funding of $100,000,” he says. “I also requested to match the funding by $100,000 from our Emergency Fund for support for municipalities as well as other first responders entities.”

He says he intends to recommend $100,000 in funding be directed to the City of Charleston to assist in providing “Hero Pay” for its first responders and front-line workers during the Commission’s next meeting, scheduled on April 21.

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin sent letters today to West Virginia Governor Jim Justice and the Kanawha County Commission asking for “hero pay” for Charleston first responders.

In a letter sent to Justice, Goodwin says she asked the City of Charleston to be given its own block grant. She says with the largest firefighter and emergency medical services workforce in the state and the second-largest police force, it is not currently sustainable to provide “hero pay” while paying all employees during this uncertain time.

“With more first responder employees than all 55 counties, the City of Charleston is respectfully asking Governor Justice for its own state grant to be put towards ‘hero pay’ incentives for City employees that are tirelessly working to keep us safe during this pandemic,” Goodwin says.

In another letter sent to Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper, Goodwin asked the Commission to “follow the instructions of Governor Jim Justice when distributing monies to counties across the state.”

A statement sent to 13 News says Justice asked counties to work with Cities to “allocate the monies given in the new block grants. The Commission has expressed its intent to keep the money to reimburse itself for “hero pay” announced earlier this week for Kanawha County employees, Goodwin says.

“The City of Charleston employs more first responders than any other municipality in the State,” she added. “Because the Kanawha County Commission made an independent decision to award its own employees prior to the Governor’s announcement I would hope the County would not reimburse themselves for their earlier decision at the expense of Kanawha County municipalities.”

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