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Members of the Moretown Select Board approved a revised personnel policy 4-1 on Monday, December 6; the new policy will be effective January 1, 2011.
Revisions to the policy include a reduction in road crew member hours from 45 guaranteed hours per week to 40 hours plus overtime; their hourly wage was increased to maintain their current pay, while comp time was eliminated and vacation time was reduced by five days.
All overtime will now need to be approved by Road Foreman Stuart
Grandfield who had previously told town officials that comp time was
difficult to manage and that he would prefer not to deal with it.
Select board member Stephanie Venema said, "The old policy wasn't being followed" and that the new one would still put all the road crew members at 40 hours per week, with a readjusted hourly rate to have the same pay, with paid overtime as needed.
Select board member David Van Deusen asked how the new policy would affect workers' hours who were hired under the old system, and if changes would be applied to those hired before.
"They were under the impression that this is the way it is when they were hired," he said.
Select board member Reed Karrow said, "We have to make some decisions. When we make this policy, that's the way it's going to be. We have to follow it."
Van Deusen previously circulated an email addressed to the select board to town residents expressing his opposition to the revisions and changes in the road crew's hours. The letter made several claims including that the new system would amount to a "POSSIBLE decrease" in the employees' weekly paycheck and that the new system would not allow the worker to predict their regular paycheck.
In addition, in his letter, Van Deusen said that the new system would not allow the select board to predict their exact budget, per worker, per year, and could result in shortfalls.
Venema told Van Deusen that the email he circulated contained misinformation and was misleading to residents.
SO MISLEADING AND WRONG
"It's okay not to understand this stuff, but you put an email out that was so misleading and so wrong and it really concerns me that you did that because you clearly didn't understand that, and you need to talk to the select board first," she said.
Van Deusen said he was "clearly trying to understand this. What I would like to do is to see if we can use tools to leverage and rein in our focus to project our budget with confidence."
Venema said, "You may be right about all that stuff, but my point is that there is a lot of misinformation. You have to be careful about that because the information you gave out was wrong."
Van Deusen said he still didn't agree with removing comp time.
Select board chair John Hoogenboom asked how the overtime hours will be controlled if there is a maximum of 200 hours and it doesn't snow consistently every day?
GO HOME EARLY
"If there is no snow the next day, two of them go home two hours early," Hoogenboom suggested.
Select board assistant Cheryl Brown told town officials that that is how the hours are currently being reflected on the road department time sheets.
"That's what they've been doing," she said.
A BAD MESSAGE
Venema made a motion to adopt the revised personnel policy. Van Deusen said, "I don't see it as not saving that much money and it's sending a bad message to the crew saying that at a certain point you're not going to get anymore."
"The way it's going to be perceived is that their vacation time is being cut down. It's going to lead to more problems. I just think it's wrong," Van Deusen continued.
Venema asked, "Why would their morale go down if overtime pay is going to increase and their pay is going up? I would hope you wouldn't present it to them in that way."
Hoogenboom added, "They don't take all their vacation time anyway."
"I just disagree on the vacation time," Van Deusen said. Hoogeboom, Venema, Roberts and Karrow voted in favor; Van Deusen voted against. The new policy takes effect January 1, 2011.