Routt County commissioners standardizing on-call pay
Routt County board members seek to correct inequities
Steamboat Springs — The Routt County Board of Commissioners is in the midst of correcting inequities that have persisted for years in their on-call pay policy for county employees.
County Manager Tom Sullivan estimated Tuesday that the county spent between $70,000 and $100,000 in 2010 to pay certain employees to be available in case they were needed on days they were not scheduled to work. But not everyone was paid the same.
Going forward, Sullivan said, all employees, regardless of their job description and pay scale, would be paid $3 per hour for being on call and $6 per hour for being on call during holidays. So, for a typical eight-hour shift, employees would be paid $24 regardless of their salary or wage. The commissioners rounded up the average hourly on-call compensation of $2.75 per hour of all departments to arrive at the $3. Some departments were paying much more and others weren’t paying anything.
“We needed to be consistent,” Sullivan said. “Everyone’s time is worth the same amount when you’re on call.”
Employees of some departments, who might be on call for 24 hours, still will earn more for a day on call, but at the same hourly rate.
The philosophy behind compensating employees for being on call is that they are agreeing to remain in the county and to be able to report work promptly during a day off, which restricts their personal freedom, Commissioner Doug Monger said.
The needs of different departments, from Road and Bridge (snow removal) to Human Services (emergency counseling) and Information Technology vary with the job, he added.
The problem in the past was that different departments have different policies, all set autonomously by the department heads, Sullivan sad.
Monger said he was confident there was no egregious abuse of the system in the past, and pointed out that the commissioners approved the individual on-call budgets annually.
He said the inconsistencies in on-call compensation came to light during budget-cutting measures last fall. The new policy goes into effect today.
On Monday, Sheriff Garrett Wiggins briefed the commissioners on the impact of the policy to his budget.
Previously, sheriff’s investigators Ken Klinger and Michael Curzon were paid roughly $45 for being on call for a 24-hour period. Under the new policy, their compensation will go up to $72 for every 24-hour period they are on call. To accommodate the change, Wiggins told the commissioners his 2011 on-call budget, which was prepared by then-Sheriff Gary Wall, would need to be revised upward by $3,462 from $14,925 to $18,387. He added that because he is short one deputy, it might not be necessary to spend the additional funds.
Both Klinger and Curzon signed the policy, which requires them to carry a cell phone, avoid consumption of alcohol and remain inside the county and able to respond within 30 minutes while on call.
— To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or e-mail tross@SteamboatToday.com
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