New personnel policy put on hold

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By Natasha Colbaugh

Sometimes the cart gets put before the horse. This almost happened at a Jellico Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting last Thursday.

A resolution to amend the personnel policy for all town employees was proposed by Alderwoman Pamela Jo Carbaugh for approval.

“When I looked at this I was a little shocked,” said Carbaugh about several things in the existing personnel policy.

Carbaugh recommended a vacation schedule, based on the amount of years worked. She said there should be no double dipping (taking vacation days and working). But Aldermen Alvin Evans felt differently, saying the smaller work force in the police department limits the amount of vacation they can take.

“That is what’s wrong, we are not spending enough time with our families,” said Carbaugh about sticking with the schedule of vacation.

Also addressing raises, Carbaugh said employees should be given raises every year as opposed to every four years.

“How else do you keep up with the cost of living,” said Carbaugh. “Look at gas now, look at food. This is just a proposal to give these people a raise every year.”

Jellico Mayor Les Stiers said the evaluation process ensures that people are doing their jobs and that is why raises are not guaranteed each year.

Carbaugh continued to discuss a stringent discipline policy. These comments sparked input from Police Chief Chris Anderson. He told the aldermen about the very specific discipline policy in the police department, which is separate from other employees.

“The police department has a personnel and procedural policy that we go by,” said Anderson.

Stiers and Carbaugh wanted the same policy to be used for all departments. But Anderson pointed out the police department is held to a higher standard than other employees. The current handbook, approved in 2006, outlines state regulations for police officers.

Carbaugh said she was not aware of the police department handbook of policy and procedure. Town attorney Terry Basista said the policy drafted by Carbaugh was vague and needed further discussion before passage.

“You need to take special consideration of the job the police department does as opposed to the job the fire department does and then your other employees,” said Basista. “This is in effect a legal document.”

Evans made a motion to table the resolution. The board agreed.

In other business the board approved an ordinance to render fire-damaged property safe. The ordinance was approved in the second and final reading by the town board.

“On the subject of cleaning up, we have gone about the task of cleaning up the city property,” said Stiers. “We want to take all these liability issues off our plate.”

Another ordinance approved by the Jellico board was an emergency drought and/or water shortage plan. The plan, submitted by the Jellico Electric and Water Board, was unanimously approved in the second and final reading.

The final ordinance approved by the board was to change the town charter. Evans recommended the town change the charter to reflect the additional committees organized by Stiers. The ordinance changes the amount of committees from six to eight.

“I just followed the charter,” said Evans.

The board approved the ordinance in the first reading.

In other business the board discussed having an employee of the month. By recognizing the work being done and offering a reward it would inspire incentive to do well, according to Alderman Tommy Bowlin. The board would provide a certificate and a small gift certificate or cash prize, said Bowlin. The motion to recognize an employee of the month was approved.

Also addressed to the board was the street department’s need for a new water truck. The truck would spray off and clean town sidewalks and other areas. In order to purchase a new water truck, the board was asked to declare several items as surplus property. Jellico Utility General Manager Mike Bethurem stated the utility is holding an old generator owned by the town, which could also be sold as surplus property. The board reviewed a list of items and decided to declare the property as surplus and try to sell it.

Anderson addressed the board about adding a towing company to the list of registered towing companies.

The owner, Gary Perkins, met all the qualifications to be added to the list, said Anderson.

“The reason I ask that he be put on the list is due to the fact that when we get vehicles we call for the next scheduled wrecker and it keeps us tied up on the roads,” said Anderson about having a local wrecker service to make a timely appearance.

After the board confirmed the proper paperwork it approved County One Towing as a registered towing company to be used by the town.