City discusses park dept. head salary vs. hourly

PLYMOUTH — The Plymouth Common Council voted down a proposed ordinance that would have amended the salary ordinance for calendar years 2011 and 2012 concerning the position of Recreation /Pool Director for the Park Department. The ordinance would have meant changing the current status of a salaried position to an hourly position as well as establishing an hourly rate.
The Council last night heard the proposed ordinance on first reading at the last meeting on November 14. The topic was listed in the Nov. 14 agenda for first, second and third readings. However, when a motion was made to suspend the rules and hear the ordinance on second reading at that meeting, Councilman Mike Delp voted no. To suspend the rules, the vote must be unanimous.
On Nov. 28, the lone vote in favor of the ordinance was cast by Councilman Don Gardner. Fellow Councilman Mark Neidig expressed his thoughts saying, “I don’t see a compelling reason to pass this.”
Neidig explained further that the person in the position is the “face” of the park to the community.
Clerk-Treasurer Toni Hutchings asked to comment as well. She said the state has changed the requirements over time and the position is non-exempt, meaning that it can not be a salaried position.
Neidig responded saying, “I respect that position. I don’t agree with it.”
He then asked City Attorney Nelson Chipman to present additional evidence that the job no longer qualifies as a salaried position.
Chipman had explained that the matter falls under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and imposes on employees a continuing duty to assess and exempt or non-exempt status of employment positions. According to Chipman, designating the position requires a specific analysis of the job functions. He said after careful review of the three tests it was determined that the Recreation/Pool Director’s position meets only the salary requirement.
Other council members had questions as well. Chuck Ripley said he wanted to know about the (proposed) amendment that would set the position at an hourly rate of $14.47 for the rest of the year and $14.90 in 2012. Echoing Ripley’s comments, Delp said he needed justification for the hourly pay. He then questioned why the position would pay the same amount as the office manager due to the fact that they would be overseeing 30 plus employees in the summer.
Councilman Wayne Smith asked if the position was year-long. Mayor Mark Senter answered saying, “Yes.”
In other business:
• The entire board was in agreement on continuing to pay $6,000 to the Marshall County Council on Aging, Inc. as part of an agreement for transportation services and $13,474 to William Neal for planning services. Neal advises the BZA, Plan Commission and the Plymouth Building Commissioner.
• The Public Works Board approved similar agreements with the Marshall County Blueberry Festival, Inc., Marshall County Bureau of Tourism, and Hearts and Hands, Inc. All three lease office space in the Old Fire House Building. The Blueberry Festival and Tourism Bureau will continue to pay $400 each month and Hearts and Hands will stay at $200 per month.
• However, when it came to approving $29,125 per year for animal control services from the Marshall County Humane Society, the board decided to table consideration and contact the Director of the Humane Society for more information. Police Chief Jim Cox said the Humane Society will no longer respond to calls at night or on the weekends and the police are handling animal calls. He said they keep animals overnight or over the weekend in a cage. According to Cox, the Humane Society points to the price of gas as the reason for reduced responses. Cox indicated most of the calls are for dogs. He said, “They (Humane Society) don’t deal with any wild animal at all.”
Although Cox did not have data with him as to the number of calls his department receives, it was noted that there were 49 animal calls in the October report from the department.
Gardner suggested that the Humane Society director come to the next meeting for answer questions. City Attorney Nelson Chipman said,” I don’t think you want her here.” But with no response, the matter was tabled.
• An ordinance concerning fixing salaries for the year 2012 for the elected official for the City was heard by the Common Council on 1st reading. It will likely be heard on both second and third readings at the next meeting.