LaFollette is staffing up departments this month

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By Natasha Colbaugh

As the LaFollette City Council convened Tuesday night, hiring new employees was the focus.

The council has consecutively hired employees at nearly every meeting in the last few months, with acting city administrator Cade Sexton saying the salaries are included in the current budget.

LaFollette Fire Chief Gary Byrd requested two full time firefighters and received the recommendation from Sexton for those positions. These two positions and one captain position will be voted on at the coming meeting.

The fire department is short a captain position and received several applications for the job. The recommendation of Byrd was for the promotion of Jimmy Pack to the position.

“It would be a $1,500 a year increase and the money is in the budget,” said Sexton. “That way every shift will have a captain.”

The applications for fire inspector have not been reviewed and no recommendations were made at the workshop for the position.

In the public works department, a part-time laborer position was also requested.

In other business, Sexton discussed his own position. The position he was hired for is part-time at 32 hours a week. However, he said some weeks he works more than required.

“I am not asking for any benefits, longevity, insurance or anything else,” said Sexton. “I don’t want to be held to the 32-hours a week because some weeks I may work more.”

Sexton was hired as a part-time temporary employee, making $25 an hour. Some weeks he works more than 32 hours while other weeks he works less, he said.

On Tuesday Sexton said he plans to ask the board to vote on a more flexible workweek for him where he is not confined to work only 32-hours.

Following Sexton’s appeal for a flexible schedule, the police department also made a request to promote two part-time officers to full-time.

“I recommend we hire them as patrol officers at the next meeting,” said Sexton.

Sexton said the positions are in the police department budget.

Councilman Hansford Hatmaker questioned how many officers are in the police department after those two are hired.

Hatmaker then questioned the overtime in the department and Sexton said it was not good.

“If we keep going like we are by the end of the year we will be out of overtime money,” said Sexton. “We have used a lot of overtime.”

In a staff meeting recently, Sexton requested the department heads control overtime. Though the discussion on overtime has been a continuous concern, the department heads say the new hires would help alleviate it.

“When all this money’s gone it’s going to be very simple, we are going to have to cut back,” said Hatmaker. “I am not for taking and throwing everything we got into the police department.”

Hatmaker said the council would be faced with the decision to cut back employees or raise taxes if the money is not available.

“I am under the assumption that this full staff will cut back overtime,” said Sexton about looking at the glass half full.

The LaFollette City Council will meet for the regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m.