Compensation approved for additional workload

WAKARUSA — The Wakarusa Town Council discussed compensating those town employees who took on an additional workload in the absence of a Town Manager. As per a pay request for Wakarusa Clerk-Treasurer Joyce Hartman, the council looked at the people who stepped up during the seven months the position had been left open after Tom Roeder’s retirement.
Councilman Jeff Ziegler said he felt compensation was warranted for the time and effort Hartman put in and said he would not be opposed to others receiving some sort of compensation for their roles in taking on extra duties during that time.
Councilmembers agreed for the most part as to the fact that more was taken on and that several people may be deserving of some sort of monetary recognition, but the amount, and what way to decipher an amount for Hartman, or other town employees was something that caused some more detailed discussion. “I think we should table it until we’ve discussed it more,” said councilmember Laurelyn Street. “Having no precedent to go from makes it hard to say how much someone should get. If one of you were gone — out of town for example — and another person stepped up, how would we determine how much others did, and how would they be compensated? We have to have something, some sort of standard in place.”
Council president Mark BeMiller commented that it would be difficult to pin down exactly how much time was spent on town manager responsibilities and commented that during the absence of a town manger, the council had agreed that filling the position was not even necessary.
Ziegler offered his “tremendous respect” for all who had “stepped up” and commented that in facing adversity, the town’s directors had each displayed acts of heroism for taking on more than they had been expected to. A motion was made to offer Hartman $20,0000 for her work above and beyond her regular job description and $5,000 each to the town directors, as well as offering Wakarusa’s Deputy Clerk Helen Hoffman $1,000.
Further discussion ensued (including statements being heard from some town department heads) with Street suggesting Hartman be compensated by taking the annual pay present town manager Jeff Troxel makes, dividing it by 12 (months) and then multiplying the monthly amount by seven — the number of months in question. She further suggested that because Hartman’s position is an elected one and the other employees being discussed were hired, their compensation should be addressed individually during performance reviews.
The motion was approved with opposition from councilman Fred Avery Jr. The total approved to be awarded Hartman was $31,208.33.
Councilmembers did unanimously decide on the abandonment of an alley that runs north and south between Railroad Street and east West Street just west of Wabash Street. The request was made by homeowner Dennis (Shirley) Yoder who’s property is adjacent to the alley, and whom had ideas for the area no longer used as a thoroughfare.
Yoder wanted to split the land (at eight foot each) with another property owner (Steve and Nancy Ketcham) who shared the area and put a shed on his portion. To do so he needed county and council approval and additionally, the proper legal determination that the land would no longer be considered public, but private.
Also during the meeting, councilmembers chose from two bids received from contractors vying for the Kemar Walk Path job. James Emans from Emans Engineering presented the bids and Brubacher Inc., Goshen, was the lowest, coming in almost $16,000 lower than it’s competitor at $77,912.
It was also noted that leaf pickup has begun and will continue by street department employees through Nov. 30. Residents are asked to rake their leaves to the curb and make sure there are no sticks, limbs, rocks, or other debris within the leaf pile in order to prevent damage of town equipment.
East/West streets will be picked up Mondays and Wednesdays and north/south streets on Tuesdays and Thursdays.