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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Village of Pound Considers Employee Benefit Package

Issue Date: February 14, 2019

Members of Pound Village Board spent more than an hour at a 6:30 p.m. special meeting on Monday, Feb. 11 called to discuss benefits for the village's two employees - Clerk/Treasurer Patricia (Trish) Schutte and Public Works Director Kevin Schutte, along with possible creation of an employee handbook that would cover the two current employees and any others the village might hire.

Specific benefits listed on the agenda were paid holidays and vacation time. The vacation and paid holiday benefits had been requested for Kevin Schutte, who is an hourly employee. Trish Schutte had informed the board before the budget was adopted and again at the January and February board meetings that she had provided for the benefits when preparing the 2019 budget. Kevin Schutte formerly was village president, but has been a full time village employee as public works director for nearly seven years. He currently has no paid holidays or paid vacations. Board members appeared willing to provide the benefits, but wanted to be sure what the total cost would be and if they could afford it.

The entire board was present for the special meeting, including trustees John Homontowski, Jerry Rogge, Mary Meyer, David Navis and Village President Terry Earley, plus Trish and Kevin Schutte and a member of the press.

Earley is employed by the Village of Lena Department of Public Works and had shared a copy of their employee handbook as a possible template for a Village of Pound version. Copies with some revisions to make it fit Pound were distributed by Navis.

Meyer said she had expected the meeting to include discussion on how to pay a health insurance benefit for Kevin, but Trish said they had voted at the regular meeting on Feb. 4 to go with option 2, which adds the insurance stipend to his salary, which makes it subject to income tax.

At the start of the vacation and holiday discussion board members reviewed the Village of Lena benefit schedule. It was a problem that the handbook states all Lena employees are hourly employees, and there is no provision in it for salaried positions.

There the paid holidays are New Year's Day Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas, and half a day each on New Year's Eve and Christmas Eve.

Meyer commented it is "pretty standard."

"That's all I was asking for," Kevin agreed.

Trish cautioned that they need to look at the position, not the person, "He could die tomorrow."

Navis said if the handbook applies to all full time employees that would include her too. She would get paid holidays and paid vacation, but would have to become an hourly employee rather than salaried. He had no problem with that, and Earley said he believes the Lena clerk is paid by the hour. Trish disagreed. She said when she did her survey it was reported as salaried. She said she would need to think about becoming an hourly employee. After discussion on leaving her clerk's office whenever called for Rescue Squad duty (for which she is a paid volunteer) she would need to clock in and out, and probably somehow make up the time, she decided she is probably not willing to become an hourly employee.

Board members, although paid by the village, are elected officials, not village employees, and an entirely separate set of rules applies to them. Their job duties are spelled out by state law, while employee job duties are mostly spelled out by the municipality, except that clerks, even those who are hired and not elected, do have some statutorily required responsibilities.

Navis commented that Trish has certain things to get done, and mostly is allowed to decide when she will do them, so in effect she does already get paid vacation, holidays, etc Trish said she had never asked for paid vacation because she wanted to be conservative for the village taxpayers,

In reviewing the Lena handbook the board also discussed state and federal requirements for things like Family Leave, funeral leave, mileage reimbursement, pay schedules, and a minimum of two hours pay for employees when attending board meetings.

In discussing response to Rescue Squad calls, Kevin pointed out that some employers - like Patz Co. and Krueger Construction - pay their people anyway. Someone else commented that there are other employers who do not let them leave at all.

Navis suggested they do a handbook with provisions for both hourly and salaried employees.

Meyer urged everyone to keep the rules as simple as possible, "complications lead to misunderstandings."

Homontowski pointed out they do not have the clerk/treasurer duties spelled out.

Currently the village pays half the cost of the Wisconsin State Retirement contribution and the village pays the other half.

The Lena handbook provides for paid sick days, with allowed accumulation up to 720 hour, at the rate of one day per month.

Eventually, the board agreed to consider what it will cost the village to replace either of the employees when they are on vacation or other leaves. Kevin has been taking unpaid vacations each year, and Rogge questioned who does the work when he is gone, and what it costs.

Navis said the village will not really know where they are financially until Rennie finishes his audit. He also asked if the board wants to make provisions for salaried people in the handbook, and volunteered, "If you want that in there, I can try to figure out how that can work..I'm willing to make an attempt to do that." He also suggested before adopting a handbook or new policies they should be reviewed by the village attorney to be sure they are complying with state and federal laws.

The meeting adjourned with the expectation of more discussion in the future.


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