Council approves more than $23,000 in back overtime compensation

LEWISTOWN – During a regular meeting Monday, Lewistown Borough Council adjusted how overtime for borough employees is managed and approved the payout for overtime hours already worked.

During Treasurer Diana Walter’s report, council discussed the payout of overtime for all overtime hours worked through 2013. Council President Russ Rager said this is part of the new wage and salary resolution that was voted on at the May meeting.

“This is all in accordance with our new policy that compensation cannot be carried over from year to year anymore,” Rager said. “All that is being paid now is time and money that was accrued before we enacted this new policy. This will become less of a liability for us as a whole.”

Borough Manager John White said this was going to happen sooner or later, and that council wouldn’t have to pay out similar amounts under the new policy. Council voted 4-2 to pay a total of $23,116 in owed compensation to employees. Council members Larry Searer and Matt Moore voted against paying, both saying that this should not have gotten as bad as it did. Council member Brian Schell was not in attendance due to a personal matter.

Borough employees will now get to choose, with consultation from White, on how to receive their overtime compensation pay, with many saying they would prefer to have “flex time”, meaning employees could adjust hours by either starting work later or leaving earlier on future work days. Employees who wish to receive standard overtime pay can still do so.

Several personnel matters were also discussed at the meeting, one of which began a disagreement over who has the right to hire and fire employees. Searer said that White “released” an employee without the consent of council.

“We, as a council, have the say on who we hire and fire as borough employees,” Searer said. “Without the knowledge of council or the personnel committee, he let someone go. We have the say.”

White said that his authority as borough manager allows him to hire and fire people whom he feels are not performing their job to appropriate standards.

Also discussed during the executive session was the possibility of putting a tax lien on a borough employee. Council will be starting to discuss this possibility at the next personnel committee meeting.

During his report, White said the final loan amount for the payment of pension plans to the Mifflin County Regional Police Department has changed since the May council meeting.

“We thought the amount for lawyer and bondage fees would be greater than it actually was,” White said.

The final loan amount will be $458,000 instead of the originally-planned-for $490,000. White also said the $440,000 being paid to MCRPD was wired “around lunch time on Monday,” which will fulfill the agreement between the two boards.

In other business:

PennDOT has approved a project for the bridge over Kish Creek on South Main Street, which will hopefully begin in 2017.

Council approved to have the curfew bell ring at 10:30 p.m., to allow about 30 minutes for juveniles to get home prior to the curfew time of 11 p.m., with a goal of putting this into effect within the next two weeks.

Exams will be administered to those wishing to become the fire chief for the borough. Three candidates have applied for the position. The tests should be administered within the next two weeks, with the hope of a new chief being chosen by the end of the month.

Lewistown Borough Council regularly meets at 5:30 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at the borough building on the corner of Third and Main streets.