October 14, 2013 by wcobserver
-By Michele Allen Winkler-
No comptime policy change was presented at the October West Fork City Council meeting. During the previous month’s meeting Michael Bartholomew agreed to formulate a policy for handling overtime hours worked by city employees. Additionally, he was to outline an approach to paying them for the time they have already earned. Instead the complexity deepened to include not only the currently owed comptime/overtime procedure, but also a policy that is the same for all departments of the City and one that will define whether certain employees are considered supervisory and therefore excluded from comptime/overtime.
CURRENTLY OWED OVERTIME:
At the September 10, 2013 council meeting, Mr. Bartholmew, Water and Wastewater Supervisor and Streets and Utilities Superintendent asked for and the council approved $12,000 to pay at least 700 hours of overtime pay to David Jones who has resigned from the City.
Paying the remaining accumulated overtime earned by employees from both the Water & Wastewater department and Streets & Utilities is made more complex by lack of clarity in the division of labor, source of payment and job descriptions of employees from both departments. Michael Bartholomew is the Superintendent of City Utilities and by an undated job description is accountable to the Water and Wastewater Commission. He receives an $85,000 salary from the latter entity.
Quotes are taken from a copy of a CD recorded by City Clerk Marsha Hungate during October 10, 2013 meeting.
Michael Bartholomew: “The only other issue is….the comptime issue. Mr. Tom [Tom Kieklak, City Attorney] here may want to speak to this, may not. We’ve really don’t have much choice. Our non uniformed employees can accumulate up to 240 hours which is six working weeks on top of their [regularly worked hours] without causing a problem or having to be paid for it. They can carry 240 hours. Anything over that they have to be paid for and they have to be up.”
[Uniformed public services are generally services such as the police, fire, ambulance, prison service etc.]
Bartholomew: “The situation we are in now, it seems most of the employees want to keep, continue to carry, that amount for extended period of illness or other family emergencies and things like Mr. Spillers had last year [the personal reasons have be omitted by the editor] and used. That was great thing for him to have at that time built up. Well, but anyway. To make a long story short you know we don’t have any choice other than to pay them comptime for everything over 240 hours that they have accumulated and then keep it down, not let it go to that. Make them go home, or stay home or something and it’s not goin’ hurt any one department too bad, and it will certainly will be budgeted for, we need to do it at the end of the year, get this cleaned up and try not to get in the position, again.”
A discussion of uniformed and non uniformed benefits was also discussed. Within that discussion the comptime hours looming for the City to pay were further elaborated upon.
Councilman Mike Nelson: “…we’ve got a lot of overtime to deal with right now, where’s the money going to come from to pay these guys?”
Bartholomew: “Well you only have one in the Water which is Mr. Spillers [Jerry Spillers] and he used most of his like I said, so his is not bad. You only have one left in the Street Department and one in the City, so it’s not now. It is a limited number of people. The other people are either part time employees or new employees.”
Nelson: “But as soon as we put this in effect basically every one of those guys has at least 240 hours don’t they?”
Bartholomew: “Three of them.”
Nelson: “And so every time they do anything it’s going to be paid for.”
Bartholomew: “Right, or make them take it off, one or the other.
The exact number of comptime hours and how or when they will be paid was not delineated by Mr. Bartholomew. Last month he indicated that one of those employees, in addition to David Jones who has resigned, has at least 700 hours. Mr. Kieklak has suggested the manner in which they receive payment, days off or cash, should be determined by the employees.
Included in the council packet was a note sent to Kristie Drymon at the Water Department. It outlined that there are “different rules for how much a worker can accumulate based upon whether the employee is uniform (police and fire) or non-uniform.” From that memo a discussion ensued about how, or if, all employees of the city ought to be given the same benefits regarding the amount of comptime/overtime, vacation and sick time. Fire and Police come under different federal and state regulations and currently have some different parameters regarding sick time, vacation and comptime.
Mayor Frances Hime had one question regarding comptime that was brought to her attention by the auditor.
Hime: “. . . Supervisors, in other words, people who are head of a department or a supervisor of a crew and supervises other workers, aren’t eligible for comptime. I had a question, can we change that…can we agree to pay supervisors comptime or department heads comptime?”
Mr. Kieklak emphasized, “All comptime is…is a way to defer overtime instead of paying it today, we are going to give you time and a half, or a day and a half that you can take off work later or get paid later, but if you collect too much of it, you have to get paid or if you leave you have to get paid.”
However, there are exceptions, but they must meet a multi-pronged test which he explained as: “people who are considered to be executives, executives are exempt. To be an executive, you have to receive a salary, not hourly wages and then you have to supervise people, you have to make your own policies you have to control your own work place and you have to direct how things are going to happen with your assignments to work.” Mr. Kieklak explained that this is very simplified version of the test, and that it has been litigated many times.
Kieklak: “So if you wanted to give [comptime to a supervisor], who did you have in mind?”
Hime: “We have Jerry Spillers in the Water department and[interrupted by conversation].”
Kieklak: “Is Spillers paid based on the hours he works or based on a fixed salary?”
Kieklak: “So he gets the same no matter what. And does he kind of run things out there, directs work?”
Bartholomew: “Yeah, he sees the things get done that we have work orders and lists to get done and he’s the one responsible to get the crews out.”
Kieklak: “So it may be that you and I could sit down and meet with him too and go through all those prongs on the test and he may come out to be exempt as well, I have no idea. So if he’s exempt you don’t have to worry about paying him over time… sometimes it’s close, you want to err toward paying overtime, you don’t want to get that wrong, so he could utilize the comptime just like anybody else. He wouldn’t have to use them if he were exempt…if he is not exempt then you will want to pay him overtime. We can do it via comptime or overtime.”
By Councilman Nelson: Our Mayor and department head s and one member of the council, get together and make Prepare….some type of …policy for the council to review in regards to comptime, over time, vacation sick leave.
Second by Councilman Charles Rossetti.
The issue of when the current overtime is to be paid is unclear. The online West Fork City Ordinance reads, “Upon the direction or approval of the department head, compensation for overtime may be made in the form of compensatory leave to the employee. The overtime record of the department head shall be final with respect to the number of compensatory leave days earned by an employee. Compensatory leave must be taken within 30 days from time earned and should be scheduled in the same manner required for vacation days with the approval of the department head.” And yet Mr. Bartholomew has reported one employee has about 700 hours accumulated.
What’s a body to think?