Oak Creek town employees could be getting increased benefits
Oak Creek town employees could see a pay raise for working overtime, more flexibility in taking vacation and a higher retirement match from the town.
Town board members weighed the issue at a work session Thursday and directed town manager David Torgler to bring back an ordinance for the board to officially approve. Because the discussion was a work session item, members could not vote that night.
On-call public works employees, who do everything from snow removal to plumbing and cleaning, are currently paid $150 in overtime per shift. During their on-call shifts, they are required to keep a pager on and with them at all times in case they are dispatched to an incident. While on call, employees cannot leave town, drink alcohol, play loud music or do anything else that could prevent them from hearing the pager or operating heavy machinery.
“Our employees get called out at all days and nights and times and on the weekends, so when one employee has the on-call pager for that whole time, it really restricts what they can do,” Torgler told board members in the Thursday, Jan. 27 meeting “They’re very restricted, and they have to be able to hear that, so there are certain things that are loud and noisy that they can’t do.”
Staff and board members are proposing employees go from $150 per shift to $200, an increase of $2,600 to the town’s budget for the entire year.
“I think $200 is a great start, and we can always change it if needed,” said Oak Creek mayor Nikki Knoebel.
Knoebel asked if Steamboat Springs and Routt County have similar incentives for their on-call employees, but Torgler said the city and county are not comparable to a town of 900, because the city and county have larger staffs with more specialized employees.
“Our staff is on call for everything,” Torgler said, adding he would contact towns of similar size in neighboring counties to see how they rewarded on-call employees.
In addition to a pay bonus for on-call work, the town is also exploring contributing 6% to its employees retirement funds, doubling the 3% it currently contributes, in addition to social security.
The town of Hayden contributes 7% and has for a long time, Torgler told board members in encouraging them to step up service for their employees.
“Our town is really short on retirement contribution,“ Torgler said.
Staff are also hoping to increase employee vacation time to 80 hours after six months. Though employees can take vacation upon arrival now, they cannot use more than a week before hitting their six-month mark.
“I don’t think you need to wait a year to get vacation,” Knoebel said. “With such a small crew, if someone says, ‘It doesn’t look like its going to snow this week,’ they should be able to take the vacation.”
While board members were in agreement about the changes, they will have to pass a first and second reading in future meetings.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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