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Council talks staff overtime pay

Posted: March 22, 2012 - 8:02pm  |  Updated: March 23, 2012 - 3:24pm

Kenai City Council mulled over an ordinance Wednesday evening that would change the overtime rate paid to city employees. The ordinance passed with an initial 5-3 vote but was not passed on a second vote. City employees still will receive an overtime rate of three-and-a-half times the normal rate on holidays. 

Council member Mike Boyle said changing the overtime rate paid would have minimal economic impact, saving $3,000 annually, and send a message that employees are not to be rewarded for arduous tasks, like working on holidays and 16- hour shifts of snow plowing. 

The council’s student representative Austin Daly disagreed, arguing the changes proposed to the municipal code were not meant to slight employees. Rather, the changes clarify the overtime rate. She also said the monetary amount saved did matter. 

“There are times when $3,000 makes a huge difference,” she said. 

The council passed another dozen ordinances Wednesday without prolonged discussion. It unanimously passed an ordinance instigating a senior discount for parks and recreation fees, as well as an ordinance increasing the funds to repair city facilities damaged during the Nov. 16, 2011 winter storm. 

Ordinance 2617-2012 consists of two components: elimination of the requirement to pay temporary employees overtime rates in excess of standards set by the Fair Labor Standards Act and a sentence in municipal code 23.25.060 that resulted in payment of overtime on holidays at rates three-and-a-half times the normal hourly rate. 

However, the council focused discussion on the latter. 

Boyle said the two issues should have been examined separately before arguing his opposition to changing the code granting three-and-a-half times pay. 

“To me, it’s saying we don’t appreciate what the workers are doing,” he said. 

Kenai finance director Terry Eubank said the error was brought to his attention by the city’s department heads. The city’s employees are appreciated, and they are compensated for their long shifts with numerous three-day weekends, he added. 

Mayor Pat Porter supported the ordnance, arguing the council has a responsibility to taxpayers to operate the city departments efficiently. 

On the first vote, council members Boyle, Brian Gabriel and Terry Bookey voted against the ordinance. 

Later, the vote was reconsidered. Before the second vote, council member Tim Navarre said the practice was an error and should not continue. He also echoed the words of Porter. 

“We have to look out for the citizens who will question the heightened pay.

“10 years from now they’ll be up here saying the cost (yearly) is $7,000, because both the increase in pay and all the other things will start multiplying too… Let’s correct this problem while if fair and equitable,” he said. 

Council member Robert Molloy changed his vote causing a tie and the failure of passage for the ordinance.

The first ordinance passed Wednesday provides residents who are 60 years of age or older a discount at the city’s boat launch as well as North and South Beach parking. It will eliminate boat launch and parking fees from Aug. 1 through July 9. 

The discount will not result in a significant decrease in city revenues, according to the resolution. 

Dwight Kramer of Kenai spoke before the council on behalf of the Kenai Area Fisherman’s Coalition, a private anglers group with a membership of around 200 local residents. 

Most of the members are seniors, Kramer said. 

A lot of the members have been hit hard by the economic downturn.  Many own boats with older two-stroke engines, which new enforcement regulations will outlaw next year. 

The investment of a new motor will cost anglers about $5,000, he said. 

“These discounts go a long way toward helping seniors… to fish during the fringe months when there aren’t so many tourists,” he said. 

The council also unanimously passed the appropriation of funds to cover the damages caused by a November storm. Increased appropriations total about $60,000. 

President Barack Obama declared the storm a national disaster making funds available to assist the city with repairs. The city is reimbursed for funds spent in response to the storm and funds to restore the city facilities. 

Initial funds reimbursed by the federal government were used to remove downed trees and debris caused by high winds, supply temporary power to facilities during the storm and respond to burst pipes in buildings without power.

The increased estimated revenues and appropriations will cover damages at City Hall and the Vintage Pointe facilities. 

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just_john 03/23/12 - 08:41 am

So let me get this straight, they didn't pass an ordinance to cut goverment employee's OT's rate, but they will still continue to receive and OT rate of 3.5 times the straight time rate? Last time I looked at my check I have never received more than 1.5 OT rate....guess I'm in the wrong sector....

just_john 03/23/12 - 05:48 pm

Funny how at least two of the council members are also full time government employee's....Conflict of intrest???

Kenai 03/23/12 - 02:36 pm

"The ordinance passed with an initial 8-3 vote"

When did Kenai's council grow from 7 to 11 members? And, explain how 11 members (or 7) can create a tie.

witchwitch 03/23/12 - 05:36 pm
3 1/2 times base pay for overtime?

So all the "necessary" work being done on holidays are paid at 3 1/2 times base. That's over $80/hour for most city employees, plus their medical and retirement packages !!??!!

I must be in the wrong business....

martinsheen 03/23/12 - 10:47 pm
the vote

The first vote tally was wrong Kenai. I believe there are a total of 8 votes, not 7. Seven council members as well as the mayor's vote.

KMarx 03/24/12 - 09:10 am
Molloy, Boyle, Gabriel and Bookey

Think it is OK that public employees recieve three and one-half time pay for holiday pay? Are you kidding me? Who is up for re-election this year? Is there even such a thing as a three and one-half pay rate in private companies?

bigbadbob 03/24/12 - 12:01 pm
I can sorta understand where

I can sorta understand where Boyle would be comning from. I dont think he has worked an honest day in his life. 3 1/2 OT is just another government hand out to him which is what hes used to. Malloy changing his vote? he must have recieved the word from his boss. isnt he up for re-election ? so sad

kenaialaskawoman 03/24/12 - 02:30 pm

Checked the city web page and Molloy is up for re-election this fall.
I agree that this is truly a benefit that "only public" employees would consider they deserved. Our elected officials should ask themselves how the general publlic would vote on this benefit, yes or no. My response is, are you kidding and I hope they bring it up again for a different outcome.

Allen 03/24/12 - 06:20 pm
No need to overreact

Well after reading the nasty comments above I read the City Council packet and watched the video. It looks to me like the ordinance doesn't match the memo from the City Finance Director to the Council so maybe that's why the ordinance failed. It looks like the City Manager is going to bring something back to the Council to consider. No big deal.

This is a typical debate of the City Council, making a big deal out of $3,000 but rubber stamping hundreds of thousands of dollars of expenditures without asking one question. The fact that Porter and Navarre are arguing so hard for the ordinance while the other council members seem to be taking a more go slow approach makes me suspect that there are other facts and angles involved with this issue that we the citizens don't know anything about, because most of what goes on a City Hall is a big secret.

jlmh 03/25/12 - 01:04 am
"Mayor Pat Porter supported

"Mayor Pat Porter supported the ordnance..."

Well that's way out of the scope of a city council. While most of them were debating ordinances, Porter was supporting ordnance (artillery)? I guess that explains the 3.5x pay. It must be hazard pay!

JRK 03/26/12 - 09:45 am

"Council member Robert Molloy changed his vote causing a tie and the failure of passage for the ordinance."

"The ordinance passed with an initial 5-3 vote but was not passed on a second vote."
& transparency: "The council passed another dozen ordinances Wednesday without prolonged discussion."

kenai_kid 03/26/12 - 12:17 pm

I'm not sure how your post relates to term limits, but if you are implying that limiting the term of council members would somehow change this vote I still don't follow. How many of the votes were cast by first term members? If you take away the publics option to limit a term by casting a vote, you may take away our best representation.

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