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Posted: 01/29/14

Full-time hire irks BT
treasurer, residents

Observer Staff Writer
      The moving of a part-time employee to full time caused some sparks to fly during a Bruce Township meeting.
       The Board of Trustees voted 5-0 on Jan. 15 to change a part-time assessor to the full-time general office clerk position, though concerns about the associated costs and job description gave board members pause.
       A four-year union contract was approved in September and set to expire on June 30, 2017. The contract includes the positions of deputy clerk, deputy treasurer and accounting assistant.
       Supervisor Richard Cory said the switch from part-time to full time allows the township to cover a retired employee that worked two days a week. The position covers 3.5 days in assessing or building and 1.5 days in the general office.
       Clerk Susan Brockmann said the employee that will become full time has been with the township for more than 20 years. She said the switch will provide continuity in an office run by a skeleton crew.
       "By having this particular person go from four days a week to five we're actually only gaining one day of pay," she said.
       The position pays $32,760, or $18 an hour, which Brockmann said was within $0.40 of their previous wages.
       Treasurer Deborah Obrecht wished to open the contract to change this and other job descriptions to better reflect the duties the employees perform. In particular, she said this employee worked in the assessing department and requires continual education credits for certification.
       "The position of general office clerk as a job opening would not describe somebody that is working approximately 65, closer to 80 percent of their time performing assessing tasks," she said.
       Obrecht made similar arguments when the township first approved of the union contract, and believes the board hasn't been negotiating in favor of the township.
       Trustee Paul Okoniewski said the issue with opening the contract for the changes means the entire contract would be up for re-negotiation, so the township should hold to the current agreement.
       "You can't just keep opening them at anytime you have a concern like this," he said. "I would take notes if you wanted to incorporate those next time the union contract comes up."
       Brockmann said job classifications and responsibilities are not intertwined in any of the township's union contracts. The only other union is the Bruce Township Firefighter Union Local 4076.
       Residents had different concerns about the hire. Trese Servitto-Smith said she wasn't in favor of full-time hiring because it cost the township additional dollars in extra wages, pensions and benefits.
       "We are still getting part-time labor, but it now cost the township somewhere in the neighborhood of an additional $35,000 a year for a person," she said.
       She said she believes the full-time hire will only provide 10 extra days of work instead of 52 given all the vacation and sick days, the former of which is paid to employees if they don't take them.
       "You are spending way more money than if you have part-time workers here and we have always done part-time," she said.
       Cory said the fact that the worker is taking over a vacant position factors into the cost. Brockmann said the township opted for vacation instead of short-term disability, and that the workers deserve to be treated as employees instead of labor.
       "I understand cost concerns, but this works in our budget and it's not that much of a difference as far as cost," she said.

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Retrieved 5/23/2015 at 4:47:38 AM.
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