By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Colfax EMTs still do not know the status of the pay proposal they brought to the Colfax Village Board.
Although the “EMT wage proposal” was on the agenda for the March 11 meeting, Jackie Ponto, administrator-clerk-treasurer, said more research was needed and that the village was waiting for a response from the village’s attorney.
Colfax EMTs are paid $3.50 an hour (EMT basic) or $4.50 (IV tech).
Readers should note that it was not clear whether the agenda item in question actually referred to “wages” paid to employees or whether it referred to a “nominal fee” paid to volunteers.
There is a difference.
The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development makes a clear distinction between EMTs who are considered employees and are paid wages and EMTs who are volunteers and are paid a nominal fee.
The Colfax Village Board technically did nothing with the agenda item that was listed as a wage proposal.
Village board members approved a motion to table the agenda item, but according to Robert’s Rules of Order, “tabling” an agenda item does not exist.
A “motion to table” refers to tabling an actual motion that is on the floor for discussion. “Tabling a motion” is appropriate when another matter that is an “emergency” must be attended to immediately. Once the other matter has been taken care of, the tabled motion is taken back up for discussion to be either approved or denied.
Be that as it may, Eric McCoy, sergeant of the Colfax EMTs, was not especially happy about the delay.
McCoy said he had expected the board to take action on the proposal at the last meeting on February 25, which followed a public safety committee meeting on February 15 when the proposal was presented.
Since the village board did not take any action at the previous meeting, McCoy said he had been told the EMTs would have a definitive answer at the March 11 meeting.
Gary Stene, village president, reiterated that more research was needed on the proposal.
McCoy has gone on record saying that he is concerned the Colfax Rescue Squad will lose EMTs because of the pay, and that while EMTs never go into the profession because they want to make a lot of money, still, gasoline costs around $4 a gallon, and some of the EMTs drive a fair distance to be on-call.
The village board approved a raise for village trustees at the last meeting but did not act on EMT pay, McCoy noted at the March 11 meeting.
Stene once again said that the village needed to do due diligence by sending the proposal to an attorney for review.
McCoy was of the opinion that the village needs a more efficient attorney.
The Department of Workforce Development considers EMTs to be volunteers if they receive a “nominal fee” for their services. A nominal fee is defined as less than 20 percent of what it would cost to hire a permanent employee.
Volunteers do not have to be paid minimum wage because they are not employees.
EMTs who are classified as employees are entitled to the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all time worked, including on-call time if they are required to be at the ambulance station or to be a certain number of minutes away.
During the discussions of the EMT pay proposal, the public safety committee and the Colfax Village Board both invoked the state statute 19.85(1)(c) for going into closed session to consider the employment, promotion, compensation or performance evaluation data of any public employee over which the governmental body has jurisdiction.
State statute does not contain a provision for a governing body to meet in closed session to discuss nominal fees for volunteers.