(Posted Jan. 22, 2018)
By Amanda Ensinger, Staff Writer
Mount Sterling village council members set the tone for the upcoming year, discussing at their January meeting their hopes and plans for 2018.
“We want to be very transparent and active in the community,” said Mayor Billy Martin. “We want to get the community more involved, as well.”
One way village leaders will enhance community engagement is through more frequent updates to the village website, www.mtsterling.org. Updates will include information on road closures, issues being addressed by village council, and community events and activities.
Council also plans to end each meeting with time for public comments, giving residents further opportunities to have their voices heard.
Finances are a top priority, as well. Council discussed cost saving measures they are taking to get out of fiscal emergency. Currently, the village is approximately $36,000 in the red.
“These girls are doing everything they can to save us money,” Martin said, referring to village staff members. “From reducing costs on phones to insurance to office supplies, these girls are stingy. They are doing everything they can to reduce expenses.”
During the business portion of the meeting, council voted to reduce the pay rate of one of its Class I sewer operators from $23 per hour to $17 per hour. The employee was hired at a higher pay rate than others with a similar job and experience.
“We need to make this pay rate equal to the other Class I operator,” said Rebecca Burns, council president. “This puts everyone who has a similar license on a fair scale.”
“This does not reflect this person’s work at all,” Burns added.
The board also approved a resolution outlining changes to the employee personnel manual.
“The employee manual needs updating bad. They really didn’t have a manual or much of one,” Martin said. “These changes will make everyone who works for the village accountable. We will have rules and regulations now that employees must follow.”
With the changes, employees must clock in and out each day, something they didn’t have to do before. The other big change involves vacation and sick time.
Previously, employees could carry over vacation or sick time to the next year. Now, that is not the case.
“With the new policy, if an employee doesn’t use any sick time, they can cash out 80 hours of sick time at the end of the year,” said Courtney Bricker, fiscal officer. “If they use any of their sick time, they cannot get cashed out for anything at the end of the year. Basically, they have to use the rest of the sick time or lose it.”
Under the new policy, employees can use their vacation time throughout the year, or they can cash out any remaining time at the end of the year. No vacation time will be carried over.
Not all council members supported these changes, saying they are unfair to employees.
“I think this needs further study,” said council member Lowell Anderson. “Some are going to lose their vacation time.”
However, Martin said the changes are necessary to prevent people from hoarding months of sick and vacation time.
“They won’t lose their vacation time and can cash it out,” Martin said. “This will prevent people from carrying over weeks of sick or vacation time and then taking a month off work.”