By Lisa Loomis
The Waitsfield Select Board will consider whether to pay its road crew members weekly versus twice a month at its meeting next week.
Currently, all town employees are paid twice a month – this is the case in most local towns and throughout the state. At the board's February 10 meeting, board chair Paul Hartshorn reported the road crew request. Changing how the town pays its employees requires that the select board adopt changes to the town's personnel policies.
At the board's February 24 meeting, town treasurer Jennifer Peterson offered objections to that proposal. She pointed out that there will be increased costs in paper and printer toner to print the checks, receipts and accompanying reports.
"Our office is small. I do not have an assistant treasurer, only an assistant clerk. In the event that I take a vacation that crosses over two payroll processing periods, who will complete payroll while I'm out? Additionally, federal 941 deposits need to be completed electronically by Friday of the pay week or the town is at risk of being penalized by the IRS. Considering an outside payroll company such as ADP is costly," she noted in a letter to the select board.
"There is a common misconception that bi-weekly payroll is taxed more heavily than weekly payroll. That is absolutely false. Weekly paychecks will be smaller (half in most cases, fluctuating with overtime earned), but ultimately employees' monthly and yearly net pay will be the same. If individuals are having difficulty budgeting their pay over two weeks, there is a direct deposit option where I can deposit half their pay into one account and the other half into a separate account (or any other break-down combination). It doesn't technically pay them each week, but for some people, out of sight equals out of mind. Employees would need to have their pay direct deposited to take advantage of this feature," she added.
"In conclusion, this move is a poor use of the town's resources; my time and doubled payroll paperwork and reporting. It seems like a big price for little gain. There is little to no financial benefit to employees to change to weekly payroll while there is a financial benefit to the town to remain bi-weekly payroll. I respectfully request that you uphold the current payroll schedule and continue bi-weekly payroll," Peterson concluded.
At this week's meeting, the board asked whether Peterson could do weekly paychecks for the road department and twice monthly paychecks for the rest of the town employees. She said no to that request and it was tabled until next week.