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Tallmadge City Council authorizes changes to benefits for some non-union city employees

Vacation and sick time among those altered

by Holly Schoenstein | reporter Published: February 23, 2014 12:00 AM
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Tallmadge -- Some non-union city employees will experience changes in their benefits now that City Council approved a proposal from the administration.

The way that affected employees earn and use vacation and sick time are among the most significant of the changes.

Some aspects of the ordinance Council authorized Feb. 13 are effective retroactive to Jan. 1, 2014, while others won't be until Jan. 1, 2015.

Mayor Dave Kline told Council the ordinance wasn't easy to work on because it affects employees' personal lives.

"Not all people are happy with it, but not all people are upset with it, either. That must mean it's a good ordinance," he said.

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Instead of the city granting vacation time at the beginning of the year, employees now will earn time off throughout the year with each pay period. The amount of vacation employees are eligible to earn won't be reduced, Kline said.

The administration proposed the change in vacation time to prevent employees from retiring on Jan. 1 of any given year and taking vacation time they hadn't earned, a situation he said had happened, but not often.

Employees who have one to four full years of service will earn 3.08 hours of vacation time per two-week pay period; five to nine years, 4.62 hours; 10 to 14, 6.16 hours; and 11 to 15, 7.70 hours. Employees with more than 15 years of service will earn 7.70 hours. Employees will be permitted to bank a maximum of 280 hours, the equivalent of seven weeks of vacation.

Employees hired before Jan. 1, 2010, earn a maximum of five weeks of vacation, and those hired after earn up to four weeks. Employees were permitted to roll over two weeks of vacation and cash out one week.

The ordinance also eliminates existing and new employees' ability to cash out any earned and unused vacation time.

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The ordinance didn't change the way sick time is accrued, which also is earned each pay period, but does affect how new employees will be permitted to cash it out. Previously, when employees leave the city on good terms or retire, they were allowed to cash out a maximum of 1,200 hours at 50 percent of their dollar-per-hour wage rate. Now, new employees can only cash out a total of 900 sick time hours at 50 percent, Kline said.

The proposal eliminates Good Friday as a paid holiday in lieu of adding Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve as paid holidays.

A new benefit for permanent part-time employees is the ability to earn paid time off. After working 3,000 hours, they'll earn .038 hours per each hour worked thereafter. The hours of earned time off will cap at 40 and will cease to accrue until some of the hours are used.

Part-timers who are elected officials or considered seasonal, intermittent or special are excluded from the policy.

Councilwoman Carol Kilway proposed an amendment to the administration's original ordinance that increased the number of worked hours required before part-timers begin to earn paid time off from 1,920 to 3,000 during Council's committee meeting Feb. 10

She later told the Tallmadge Express the intent of the amendment was to reward the permanent part-time employees who work in professional roles at the city rather than those who are in seasonal, non-professional roles.

"The city is being pretty much run by a lot of part-time professionals that were full-time at one time, and as the city has changed and we've done collaborations and everything they have gone down to part-time status," Kilway said.

The city employs around 150 to 200 full-time and part-time workers, depending on the season. Of its entire workforce, about 80 are full-time, according to Kline.

Seventy-two employees on the nonunion roster are part-time, which prompts him to say the city has more part-timers than ever before.

Lloyd Alger, who works in the Information Technology Department, voiced opposition to the proposed changes last December, telling Council the administration was trying to take advantage of non-union employees who have no collective bargaining rights in an attempt for the city to save money.

When contacted about Council authorizing the changes, Alger declined to comment.

Contact this reporter at 330-541-9428 or hschoenstein@recordpub.com

Facebook: Holly Schoenstein, Record Publishing Co.

Twitter: @SchoensteinH

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