Cloverdale council looks at utility department's wages
CLOVERDALE -- The Cloverdale Town Council had a packed house as it met for its monthly meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss its ongoing issues with utilities.
After being tabled for several months, the council once again reviewed Ordinance 2014-1, which is an amendment to Ordinance 2013-10 to make the wage of the water and wastewater superintendents a salary position, thus ineligible for overtime.
Although, some supported this decision, it appeared the majority of the council was against it. However, it was noted that financial adviser Steve Brock could possibly find extra money to compensate those employees after completing a utility rate study.
"If they go salary and you happen to work on the weekend, you lose two days during the week," board member Gary Bennington said. "You'll be losing two days during the week."
Vice President Dennis Padgett also addressed the issue of two utility workers recently being hired at the top of the pay bracket, when the department has workers that have been around for several years without being bumped to the top of the bracket as well.
"One of the problems I have with this is, you're wanting individuals to give their overtime up," Padgett explained. "We just hired two new individuals and we put them up at the top of the bracket. Why are we spending extra money and hiring individuals and putting them at the top of the bracket? It doesn't make sense to me. Then you're asking others to give their overtime up, it's wrong."
Utility Manager Charles Knuf explained to Padgett that it was recommended by IDEM to hire two more individuals.
However, as far as compensation, the council set up the pay bracket during its most recent amendment to the salary ordinance, but structurally Knuf makes the decision on what workers are compensated when hired.
"We've got individuals who have worked here five years and you hire people off the street and they're making $2.50 more an hour," Padgett said. "They should be down there at the bottom of the bracket. That's not right for individuals to be here five years and you hire individuals off the street and they're making $2.50 more an hour and then you're asking other individuals to give up their overtime. It's not right."
After much discussion, Town Attorney Alan Yackey advised the council that doing a utility rate study at a cost of $12,000 along with a salary analysis, which would not only look to lower utility bills for residents, but also find potential ways to give those employees giving up their overtime a bit of compensation.
"When you have problems trying to keep the town afloat, you try and save money as much as you can, " Padgett said. "In my 12 years that I've been on this board, we've never hired anyone that's top bracket. They all come in at the bottom and work their way up.
"What I see here is that individuals were hired. They were paid at the top scale and other individuals here now have figured it out. We don't have enough money to pay everybody so we're going to ask the other individuals to take less and that's the bottom line I see here and it's not right. There's individuals that have worked here five years and you're just throwing mud in their face."
The council once again decided to table the issue of amending the ordinance to make both water and wastewater superintendent's salaried positions.
However, council President Coweta Patton along with council member Don Sublett once again made a plea to do the utility rate study at a cost of $12,000, but it seemed to fall on deaf ears as two of the council believed it was too much money and it should be saved.
"Steve Brock's proposal of $12,000 is far less than any bid we've ever had before," Sublett said. "This is a very low budget type bid. One of the things Mr. Brock told me, personally, is that he's never seen a fixed rate for sewage. I think if we get Steve Brock to do the study and he brings in all the factors that would help our revenue side of utilities, I honestly think this is going to lower the rates. This council has got to do something."
The town council approved moving forward with the utility rate study, however Bennington voted against it.
Knuf also came before the council to give a quick update on the status of the town's ongoing inflow and infiltration issues.
"We've been busy with the I and I problems," Knuf explained. "We're working on that daily."
Knuf informed the council that the previously discussed vacant property in Stardust Hills, which was not connected to storm drains or sewer drains has been cut off and will now run into Rabbit Run Creek.
Utility workers will soon be doing the same, cutting the sewer line off from the town's system, at the old Holiday Inn site.
"There's all these open drains over there that flow into our sanitary sewer," Knuf explained. "We're going to cut that off to try and eliminate some of the I and I problems."
In other business:
* Knuf will be looking into leasing radio-read water meters. A quote is expected to be presented to the council within the coming months.
* The council approved the purchase of a chlorinator for the water department for a total of $1,951 from B.L. Anderson.
* Matt Nichols was appointed to the Redevelopment Commission by the council.
* The council approved Ordinance 2014-2 to increase the spending limit for department heads to $1,300 without needing council approval.
* Naomi Skaggs was appointed to the storm water board, which has been established in hopes of obtaining an upcoming grant. In order to move forward, board members Padgett, Bennington and Skaggs need to conduct a public hearing to increase the utility bill to $5.01 after a rate study has been done.