City council defeats motion for full refund
By Bert Lehman
City employees must use vacation and comp time to be paid for the hours they didn’t work when Clintonville City Hall was closed for a snowstorm on April 16.
City Administrator Sharon Eveland recently requested that those hours be refunded back to employees.
That request was only partially granted by the Clintonville City Council at its June 12 meeting, when the council approved 50 percent of the hours to be refunded.
Eveland told the council the city does not currently have a policy in place that addresses city hall being closed because of weather.
She told the council that she contacted other municipalities to see how they handle similar situations and after speaking with Clintonville Mayor Richard Beggs, she requested the council approve the refund of employee vacation and comp hours for the emergency closure.
“My take on this is that we made the decision due to the safety of our staff and to encourage others to take seriously the requests to stay off the roads,” Eveland said. “I do not feel that we should penalize our employees as a result of the decision that we made to shut down operations.”
City Council President Mike Hankins informed the council that the Clintonville Finance Committee recommended the approval of the refund of vacation of comp time, which amounted to 87.75 hours.
Clintonville Police Chief James Beggs questioned the proposed refund.
“Obviously there are departments that can’t close, we’re classified as essential personnel,” Beggs said. “Because of this, the original thing before this approval was that these people were going to be compensated for not being on the job due to the weather conditions. Now people who have to be on the job due to weather conditions, [police], street [department employees] or whoever was called out, now will be receiving nothing. And I’ve been hearing it from my people. I think this is something that should be taken into consideration. I think there is a fairness issue here.”
Beggs added that he would abide by whatever decision the council made.
“But I’m just telling you there are people out there who aren’t happy with this,” Beggs said. “My employees, and not just my employees.”
Alderman Brad Rokus responded to Beggs’s concern. Prior to his comment, he stated the statement might sound callous, but he didn’t mean any disrespect.
“You know what your position is, you know what your role is with the community,” Rokus said. “You guys should take pride in the fact you are essential personnel. But with that comes, you’re not going to get to close down because of bad weather. You’re actually going to have to be busier because of bad weather because of what your roles are. With that said, I don’t necessarily think it’s appropriate to put non-essential people at more peril reporting to their duties.”
Alderman Ben Huber, who is also a member of the Clintonville School Board, told the council that the school district sometimes pays hourly employees for snow days. He added that the district has considered, but has yet to adopt, a policy of paying employees 50 percent of their wages for snow days.
Rokus said he liked the idea of refunding city hall employees 50 percent of their vacation and comp hours used the day City Hall was closed. He recommended the council defeat the motion that would refund 100 percent of the hours.
The motion to reimburse 87.75 hours of vacation and comp time was defeated by a 4-5 vote. Those voting in favor of the motion were Tammy Strey-Hirt, Jim Supanich, Mike Hankins, and Maggie Tischauser. Alderman Brandon Braden was excused from the meeting.
Immediately after the motion was defeated, Rokus introduced a motion to reimburse the city staff that was not required to come to work because City Hall was closed at 50 percent of the comp or vacation time they expended. Huber seconded the motion.
Clintonville Clerk/Treasurer Peggy Johnson told the council that one City Hall employee who lives in Clintonville was going to report to work that day, but received notice not to come to work. She said another City Hall employee who lives in Shawano was going to report to work by 10 a.m. that morning.
“I would request you to consider that,” Johnson said.
“I really don’t think it’s fair for people to lose out on their income just because of bad weather,” Tischauser said.
This motion to reimburse 50 percent of the hours passed. Strey-Hirt, Tischauser and Julie Strumbris voted no.