SALINEVILLE-During this year's unusually snowy winter Street Administrator Ralph Ross has been accumulating quite a bit of overtime trying to keep the roads clear. In order to save money council voted Monday to cut back on Ross' overtime by allowing Board of Public Affairs employee Travis Needham to plow snow in his place.
Councilman Brian Tedeschi proposed the idea of minimizing Ross' overtime by dividing the work load between the two village employees. He said it would save the village money by not having to pay Ross time-and-a-half and remove some of this "burden" of being the lone village employee responsible for plowing the roads.
"We have two people that can run that equipment," said Tedeschi. "Instead of overburdening Ross with all the overtime wouldn't it be a lot more economical if we just let Travis (Needham) come in and do some of the plowing?"
When asked by Tedeschi if he would have a problem with this sort of arrangement Ross responded that Needham does not know how to operate a plow truck and he does not feel comfortable with him operating it.
Tedeschi and several other members said they had all been told by Needham himself that he does in fact know how to operate a plow and has done so in the past. Tedeschi, who also has experience operating plows, said he would ride along with Needham to make sure he knows how to operate a plow, before approving the overtime arrangement.
Mayor Mary Smith said she was under the impression that Ross did not typically work that much overtime and asked him how many hours of overtime he had been getting during recent snow storms. Ross responded that he had recently worked 29 hours of overtime in two weeks.
"That's because of the snow, what do you want me to do?" Ross asked.
"That's only 14 hours per week and with the snow we've been having that's not that astronomical," said Councilman Jim Wilson, "But if we could let the other guy run it (the snow plow) we wouldn't have to pay Ross overtime."
Smith requested that Fiscal Officer Becky Tolson provide a comparison between paying Ross time-and-a-half and paying Needham to work the same hours, except at his regular rate. Tolson said it would be cheaper to pay Needham regular pay rather than pay Ross time-and-a-half, but she could not provide exact numbers. She said that although the arrangement would save the village money it would not be a significant amount.
"You're not accomplishing a whole heck of a lot by letting somebody else do it versus paying Ross overtime," said Tolson. "It's not that huge of a dollar amount."
She noted she has arranged the village budget to be able to pay Ross 40 hours per week of regular time plus overtime. She said that financially the village would be okay with Travis working in the place of Ross as long his pay did not exceed the money she had budgeted for the street department.
She noted that whatever council should decide, they need to make sure that Ross is not working overtime while Needham is also logging hours because this could exceed the street department's budget.
"Ross can't have any overtime if you're going to be paying somebody else to plow in his absence, because there's not enough money to do both," said Tolson.
Council said they understand that between plowing, maintaining machinery, repairing streets, and most recently, providing assistance to the sewer department Ross is justified in working overtime, but the village needs to save whatever money they can.
"If you can afford to pay Ralph (Ross) 14 hours of overtime, you can pay this other guy 21 hours for the same amount," said Wilson.
Council made a motion that Ross be allowed to work up to eight hours of overtime plowing snow, after which he must be replaced by Needham. The motion also specified that Needham demonstrate to Tedeschi that he is proficient with a plow before he is allowed to operate the village plow truck.