Andrews council debates effectiveness of police longevity pay

Longevity pay for the police department was the primary issue at the monthly meeting of the Andrews Town Council on Monday, Sept. 10.

During the public hearing on the town's proposed 2013 budget, council President John Harshbarger voiced disapproval over the $8,640 budgeted for longevity pay for the police department, contending that the pay - which is in place to give employees in the department incentive to return each year - has traditionally not been effective at retaining employees.

Vice President Mike Rohler suggested that the council look into exactly how many employees of the police department have left during the time period that longevity pay has been in effect so that it can get a clearer picture as to how effective it has been and if it is, as Harshbarger contends, an unnecessary expenditure.

Rohler brought to the council's attention, however, that if longevity pay were eliminated, the council would be obligated to start paying police department employees time-and-a-half for any overtime worked. Currently, those employees are not paid overtime as a condition of their status as salaried employees receiving longevity pay. Rohler informed the council that it is a common practice to compensate such employees in one way or the other. The council resolved to look into the situation further before passing the budget.

In other business, Town Marshal Van Juillerat informed the council that there were no incidents during Western Days, which took place Friday, Aug. 24, and Saturday, Aug. 25.

Harshbarger voiced a complaint over the noise produced by the operation of four-wheelers in citizens' yards. Juillerat responded that there was little he could do, outside of issuing noise citations, given that the four-wheelers were not being operated on public property.

Clerk/Treasurer Bill Johnson informed the council the work on the town's website was progressing toward completion and expressed happiness over the Andrews Public Library receiving a $261,102 grant from the state. Laura Dillon said the grant will fund an expansion project to double the size of the library and that construction will likely begin in March.

Harshbarger introduced a unanimously approved motion to let Utility Superintendent Colin Bullock purchase a truck for the utility department. The truck would, among other things, be used for snow removal in the winter, upon the purchase of a plow. The council budgeted $48,000 for the truck.

Bullock also informed the council that the open area behind the mud bog is the location for citizens to take their leaves for disposal this fall.

During claims, Rohler was unhappy over the payment of $2,200 to contractors who worked on the community center, given that many things they worked on did not end up meeting code. Rohler suggested the council's policy in the future should be to withhold payment until inspections can be conducted.

Johnson said that the council would receive an update on the water rate study it commissioned at its next meeting.