Letter to the Editor

Fillmore defends decision to end employee bonus

Friday, May 16, 2008

To the editor:

Since taking office in January of this year, the Fillmore Town Council has tried to be very forthcoming about the challenges we face.

As elected officials, the best interest of the Town and its Residents has been foremost in our thoughts and planning.

One item that was of concern to all of the Council Members long before we took office was the $500 per month bonus that was paid to the Town's Water employee for maintaining the credentials he needed to do his job.

The Town's Water Employee is paid an annual salary of more than $18,000 for a part time position.

In a conversation between Councilman Alan Jones and Water Superintendent David Gilley, it was made clear that the Council felt this additional payment of $500 per month was excessive and would be carefully reviewed.

Since it was made clear to Councilman Jones that this additional $500 per month was considered a condition of employment by the Employee, the Council felt that it was imperative to be certain of the facts before making the extra $6,000 per year an issue and taking action.

The cost of the DSS (Distribution System Small) certification is no more than $30 per year. That cost, and the cost of any necessary Continuing Education (CEU's) is reimbursed by the Town.

Further research revealed that IDEM (Indiana Department of Environmental Management) does not require, or expect, that any bonus will be paid to town employees for holding the DSS certification.

In reviewing the Council's concerns with a number of small municipalities in Putnam and Hendricks counties, it was learned that none of them had ever heard of paying an individual that kind of premium for being qualified to do his job.

Some of those individuals asked about the possibility of employment with the Town of Fillmore (even without the additional $6,000 per year, they felt we paid well).

For the record, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) and the State Board of Accounts were also consulted about this concern. Neither of these agencies had heard of such a practice, nor were they concerned about discontinuing payment of these additional funds.

When Council President, Jeff Osborn, consulted with the Town's attorney (prior to the May 1 meeting) about the review and possible removal of this Bonus Payment to the Town's Water Employee, her response was that it was not legal to allocate such funds without a regulating ordinance. A careful review of the Town's Ordinances, Resolutions, and Meeting Minutes had already made it clear that there was no Ordinance, just a motion that carried in the Town's Meeting Minutes (before the current Council took office).

The Fillmore Town Council welcomes the opportunity to openly discuss the concerns about the Town. We do not expect all of our decisions to be easy or popular. We do intend to act in the best interest of the Town and its Residents.

And to the individual who chose to use the cover of the Speak Out section in the BannerGraphic to suggest that the Town Council had not done its homework on this matter, thank you for noticing that we are trying to present the Town in the most positive light possible.

Jeff Osborn, Wes Terhune, Alan Jones,

Fillmore Town Council