Council resolves several ongoing police issues

BOURBON — A controversy that had been the height of controversy between council member has at last been resolved.
Council president Les McFarland and councilmember Larry Wattenbarger came to an agreement to “grandfather” existing full-time officers to continue the six day on, three day off work schedule and that any future police officers with full-time benefits shall be on a five day workweek with two days off, just as non-law enforcement town employees are. McFarland computed that to change the existing full-time officers from salary to hourly schedules would ultimately cost the town $11,706 just to cover their hours of overtime, and a total of $13,022.93 (including 11.25 percent factoring in pensions) to “correct” the 15-day difference to put officers on the 40-hour workweek. McFarland also showed the number of hours worked in 2009 and 2010 by all departments. “It makes a big difference,” he explained, “and will end up costing the town. I think it’s important to remember that when everyone got hired in they knew what their benefits entailed. ... I see them (street/water and police departments) as two different entities.”
Wattenbarger noted that he still felt a workweek meant five days on, and two off so, the men compromised, something seldom seen by the town leaders as of late.
Water superintendent Mike Shoda spoke on the subject. “I’ve spoken to the other town employees and we really don’t care about it,” he explained. “If they get six days (vacation for each week) they get six days. We just want everyone to get along.” Wastewater superintendent Mike McFarland agreed. “We don’t give a hoot. We just need to get it over with,” he said. Other police matters decided upon at the Feb. 15 meeting included the denial of a request from police chief Bill Martin to allow officers to use their own personal cell phones and receive a stipend from the town rather than having the town pay for their work cell phones — as they do now — so they only have to carry one phone. President McFarland had showed results of extensive research of cell phone plans and comparisons and determined it not cost effective.
“I recommend they forward calls to their personal cell phones and for them to just use the one,” he said, about those that didn’t want to carry two. The monthly bill as it stands to furnish the “work” cell phones is $27.02 per officer per month whereas the stipend they were looking at was between $50 and $60 per month per officer.
Appreciation was also offered to all officers from local part-time and reserve, and area and county departments who assisted in covering shifts and sharing responsibilities so officers from the Bourbon Police Department could honor the loss of officer Gary Collins from the force during mourning and services. President McFarland suggested sending letters of appreciation to all those integral in making the process a smooth one.
It was also agreed upon by the council, to create a memorial with a photo of Collins at the police station and McFarland read a proclamation honoring Collins for his “18 years of outstanding service” and his being “instrumental and successful” with the DARE program.
McFarland also presented the street and water employees with a framed certificate of appreciation for their efforts in snow removal during the recent winter storms. Former council president Wattenbarger also offered his personal kudos to council president McFarland.
“I think that he has done a stellar job with the tragedy that has hit this town,” he said. “You are bending over backward to make this all work and you deserve a hand.” President McFarland replied (after applause) simply, “All of us just need to work together so we can do what needs to be done for the town.”
Other items addressed during the February meeting:
• It was noted that all minutes of meetings would be published on the town’s website for the public’s perusal, the month following their approval by the council.
• Street supervisor Roger Terry was given permission to remove trees that were in the town right-of-way that were either visual obstacles making driving unsafe or old trees that needed to be removed before they caused any damage or liability to the town.
• Police Chief Martin was given permission to begin the process of creating a Reserves program within the force, to hire Derek Workman as fill in for work schedules, to hire Matt Haskings as a part-time officer, John Danowski as the Triton DARE officer and for Martin to be able to hire from the part time employees to fill positions as they are needed.