Md. officials say relocation of workers to W.Va. delayed
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Maryland's congressional delegation helped delay plans to relocate hundreds of federal employees from their state to Parkersburg, those lawmakers announced Thursday.
The group - two senators and five representatives, all Democrats - had criticized plans to move 450 Federal Management Services employees from Hyattsville, Md., to the Bureau of Public Debt offices in Parkersburg.
Originally, Parkersburg was set to add those jobs by the beginning of 2015. Now, the move will not happen until at least the end of 2019, the Maryland lawmakers said.
West Virginia officials had cheered the original plan, which was announced in August.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., sought to share credit for the move at the time. He cited a July 10 letter he sent to U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner about maintaining and growing the Bureau of Public Debt in Parkersburg, where some 1,900 federal employees already work. Thursday night, Rockefeller made clear the jobs in Parkersburg will remain in Parkersburg.
"My priority remains making sure that the every single one of the 1,850 jobs currently at the Bureau of Public Debt in Parkersburg stays there, which I made very clear to Treasury Secretary Geither in a letter in July," Rockefeller said through a spokeswoman. "The Treasury Department has made clear that those jobs will stay in West Virginia."
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin had been effusive in August, calling the decision "great news" for the Parkersburg area. Last week, Tomblin Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette, a native of the Parkersburg area, pointed to the planned move as a sign of improvement in the state's job market.
But Maryland's congressional delegation was unhappy with the plan.
The state's two senators - Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin - sent Geithner a letter of their own in October to protest the move, which they called a "direct hit" to the middle class in the area, which is just miles from Washington.
"Moving 450 jobs out of Hyattsville would be a terrible loss for Prince George's County and the workers at FMS," the senators said in October. "These are good middle-class jobs for hundreds of trained accountants who have spent their careers in Maryland. It is expected that only 10 percent - 15 percent of all workers will actually be able to pick up and move their families to the communities where their jobs are moving."
Maryland's senators and five of its eight U.S. House members jointly announced the decision in press releases on Thursday.
Besides Mikulski and Cardin, the other lawmakers involved included Reps. Donna Edwards, Steny Hoyer, Chris Van Hollen, Elijah Cummings and John Sarbanes.
The delegation's comments suggested it might not make sense to move long-time federal employees from near the nation's Capitol, across the Potomac and to a new state in a city along the Ohio River.
"Prince George's County is ideally situated to serve the federal government and I will continue to work with the County and its business leaders to bring more federal facilities to the County," Cardin said in a statement Thursday.
Press aides to Tomblin, Rockefeller, Sen. Joe Manchin and Rep. David McKinley, who represents Parkersburg, were initially unaware of the news when reached Thursday evening.