Obetz takes new approach with city employees; plus other Obetz news

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By Katelyn Sattler
Staff Writer

The city of Obetz has implemented a new schedule where employees work four nine-hour days per week, for a total of 36 hours, with the remaining four hours being physical and mental wellness time.

This plan was rolled out with Obetz City Council’s approval of the new employee handbook.

“Our employees will be required for four hours a week to dedicate time to their physical and mental well-being in some form or fashion,” said Obetz City Administrator Rod Davisson. “That can be yoga, meditation, exercise, whatever that is. They will physically do their job for 36 hours. They’ll spend four additional hours on ‘PM Time’ which counts as work time.”

Employees will still be paid for 40 hours of work a week. With one extra day off a week with this schedule, employees will get 52 more days off a year.

“It’s more costly to us,” said Davisson. “It’s not free. But I think we end up with happier, healthier, motivated, more efficient employees on more efficient schedule with more time off.”

Obetz also increased their paid holidays from 12 days to 17 days and increased sick time by 24 hours.

Vacation time was increased. Employees will receive 40 hours of vacation when hired, 80 hours during years one and two, 120 hours after three years of service, 160 hours during years four to eight, 180 hours during years nine to 13, 200 hours during years 14-19, and it maxes out at 240 for 20 or more years of service.

The annual bonus was renamed the year-end longevity bonus and it kicks in during year 0-1 of employment with the city at $750 and increases with each year of employment. At year five, the longevity bonus is $877, at year 10, it’s $1,067, at year 15, it’s $1,298, at year 20, it’s $1,580, at year 25, it’s $1,922, and maxes out at year 30 at $2,338.

Part-time employees will receive a year-end longevity bonus, which will depend on the number of hours worked in the calendar year.

“The workforce has changed, the workforce is changing, and this workforce wants a better work-life balance,” said Davisson. “They’re not solely driven by money, as long as they can afford to live. If they can live, they want more time off. So we said, ‘All right, here’s more time off instead of more money.’”

Concerning annual raises, Davisson said, “There’s a raise in there, but it’s not the raise you would have otherwise. It’s a trade off. You got more time off for a smaller raise. It’s still decent compensation. It’s substantial, this year as we’ve switched to kind of city pay rates. But after this it’ll be more of the 3 percent per year you typically see.”

Addressing the question of whether this new schedule will cause staffing issues, Davisson said, “No. We think it will increase productivity. We have split the work week so that our public facing operations won’t have any change.”

Concerning a potential decrease in worker productivity, Davisson said, “It can’t happen. What we’ve said to them is, ‘If we see any drop off in productivity or efficiency, this all goes away. And you can very easily be back to a regular 40 hour workweek.’ We’re betting that they’re going to want this schedule so bad that they’re gonna increase their effort, productivity and deal with anything to keep it. And we think it’s going to increase productivity for us and increase the services for the city.”

Davisson said it will also help the city of Obetz to attract people, retain people, create happier people.

“We think it will ultimately tie into the physical fitness of our people,” said Davisson. “There are strings that come with that four hours. We will begin to roll in HSA money based on performance standards, ultimately. If you want your full HSA money, you may have to quit smoking or you may have to pass a test or you have to show that you’ve done X number of workouts. That won’t roll in the first year, but it’ll roll in as we get it going. Ultimately we hope then to have a healthier, happier staff that’s more motivated to do more work in less time. And that’s the bet we’ve taken, which is, there are not many people out there trying this, and it’s novel, for sure.”

By Katelyn Sattler
Staff Writer

Obetz City Council approved some changes to the city’s 2023 appropriations.

Changes include:

•Mayor Angela Kirk said the amount set aside for the siren fees (for the sirens that go off every Wednesday) has been increased from is $9,000 to $10,000. The city pays the fee in part to Franklin County to help offset costs for operating and maintaining the sirens.

•The appropriation for the mayor’s court computer was $750, but it has been increased by $4,000 to $4,750. Law Director Gene Hollins said, “The city has a subscription payment for mayor’s court software that we use. We’ve always had this computer fund, but apparently, in the past, accumulating here and there, and this is the perfect type of expenditure for it. So this year we figured out that we were taking out of the general fund. We shifted over to the computer fund. We will reduce the general fund expenditure by $4,750 and pay for it through the mayor’s court computer fund.”

•Authorizing payment on a contract with Waste Management of Ohio. The current amount is $505,000 which will be increased to $517,000. In this ordinance, council authorized a payment not to exceed $37,197 to Waste Management of Ohio.

Other news
•Council approved the annexation of 35+_ acres from Hamilton Township to the city of Obetz. This is the southern most edge of the Wilburn farm, which is the property along the Big Walnut Creek, which the city has designated as park land.

•Kirk said the structure on the Warner farm, across from the high school, has been demolished – there’s nothing left out there now. The Junkyard Lounge has also been demolished.

•Police Chief Mike Confer said a new officer, Damon Caruso, will start on Feb. 5. He’s currently in Ashville as an officer with about 10 years of service there.

•Confer said that in the last couple of weeks, the police department has taken 878 calls for service. Officers patrolled 3,143 miles in that time. They issued 27 moving citations, four of which were speeding, three parking citations, three misdemeanor arrests. They’ve taken 27 offense reports and nine crash reports.

•City Engineer / Deputy City Administrator Mike Corbitt said the front two buildings on the Perkins’ property will be demolished soon, which will help with the Sheetz project. Davey’s Tree Service has started to cut down trees.

•Corbitt said the city is looking into water line projects that are coming up. The lead time for the water line is close to 30 weeks, as opposed to the 16 week lead time for the water line the city ordered last year for the Buckstone development.

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