WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — A pay dispute between Ohio County sheriff’s deputies and the commission went before the civil service commission.

Deputies say recent changes to their wages, vacation and security duties are making it difficult to keep up what they call a living wage.

Three separate lawsuits were filed by county employees back in December against the commission, all relating to allegedly improper wage payments.

Shortly afterward, the commission sent a letter to deputies terminating an agreement to provide security at the Highlands.

Attorneys for the deputies call that retaliation, but the commission says it’s been an issue long before the lawsuit.

Commissioners Randy Wharton, Don Nickerson and Zach Abraham all took the stand, along with County Administrator Randy Russell.

The county says deputies often aren’t at the Highlands Sports complex when they’re needed at events, pointing to a specific instance in May of last year when a fight broke out at a basketball game and no officers were present.

They also claim that no deputies showed up to direct Highlands traffic on Black Friday, which is when they say matters came to a head.

In response, Sheriff Tom Howard testified that a lack of manpower has severely hurt their ability to keep up with the work expected of them.

He says the deputy assigned during Black Friday was pulled after a DOA incident elsewhere in the county.

Sheriff Howard alleges that Ohio County deputies are already paid less than those in other counties, and that losing this work will hurt their salaries in 2023.

No final decision was made on the dispute today.

Tomorrow the hearing will continue before Judge Wilson in circuit court.