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Colfax approves pay increases for employees

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX —  The Colfax Village Board has approved pay increases for the public works employee, director of public works and the Colfax Rescue Squad director of 35 cents an hour, $1 an hour and  $1.25 per hour.

The village board approved the pay increases following closed sessions of joint meetings with the village board and the personnel committee September 22 and September 29.

The entire village board serves on the personnel committee, but Scott Gunnufson, village president, chairs the village board, while Susan Olson, village trustee, chairs the personnel committee.

Don Logslett, department of public works employee, currently makes $21.35 per hour, which will increase to $21.70 after January 1.

Rand Bates, director of public works, currently makes an annual salary of $46,176, which will increase to $48,256 after January 1.

Don Knutson, director of the Colfax Rescue Squad, currently makes an annual salary of $35,048, which will increase to $37,648 after January 1.

The village board/personnel committee conducted employee evaluations for Logslett and Bates September 22.

Board members also planned to conduct the employee evaluation for Knutson on September 22, but the rescue squad was called out on an emergency, and Knutson went out on the call.

The village board/personnel committee addressed several changes to the employee handbook prior to conducting Knutson’s evaluation in closed session on September 29.

“We appreciate Don (Knutson’s) positive influence at (the rescue squad) and for the village,” Gunnufson said after the board reconvened into open session.

“He has always had a stable budget … you do whatever it takes to get the job done. You are a true advocate for the village,” he said.

“Keep up the good work,” chimed in Beverly Schauer, village trustee.

The remaining village board members also thanked Knutson for his service to the community.

Sick leave

One of the issues addressed by the village board/personnel committee at both the September 22 and September 29 meetings was sick leave.

Under the previous agreement, employees could accumulate up to 720 hours of sick leave.

Under the new contract governed by the new employee handbook, village workers can only accumulate 480 hours of sick leave. When the sick leave goes over 480 hours, employees are paid a percentage of the sick leave hours.

Under the previous agreement, employees would be paid the full amount for the 720 hours when they retired or when they terminated employment with the village.

Both Logslett and Knutson were concerned they were going to lose the sick leave they had already earned.

Knutson has already reached the 720 hours.

Logslett is nearly at the 480 hours.

Jackie Ponto, administrator-clerk-treasurer, assured both of them that they would not lose the 480 hours.

When employees with up to 480 hours of accumulated sick leave retire, they will be paid their full wage for the number of hours, she said.

Knutson wondered if the number of hours he has earned above 480 could be put into a post-employment account and used to pay health insurance premiums for him after he retires, similar to the program implemented for Pete Gehring when he retired as police chief.

The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved a motion to set aside the 240 hours for Don Knutson to receive as a post-retirement benefit.

Under the new contract, employees who have worked for Colfax for one to ten years will receive 25 percent as a payout for sick leave over 480 hours.

Employees who have worked for the village for 11 to 19 years will receive 30 percent as a payout for sick leave over 480 hours.

People who have worked for the village for more than 20 years will receive a 35 percent payout.

The reason employees will only receive one-fourth to one-third of their pay for any accumulated sick leave over 480 hours is to encourage employees to take time off when they are ill and not to let the sick leave hours accumulate, Ponto said.

Under the previous agreement, employees earned eight hours of sick leave per month.

Under the new contract, employees earn four hours of sick leave per month.

Comp time

Under the new employee contract, supervisory personnel (department heads) do not receive any overtime but are instead compensated after 40 hours with compensatory time off.

Hourly employees will be paid time and one-half for hours worked over 40 hours.

Instead of overtime, hourly employees can choose to receive compensatory time.

Village employees can carry over 40 hours of comp time to the next year by notifying the administrator-clerk-treasurer. Compensatory time not taken by December 1 will be paid out in the first paycheck in December.

Non-supervisory employees ordered to report to duty at a time other than the regular duty hours will be paid a minimum of two hours at time and one-half and also time and one-half for the hours exceeding the two-hour minimum.

The “call-in pay” would most likely apply to emergencies in the winter, such as plowing snow or thawing frozen water mains.

“We are spoiled in Colfax because the streets are plowed by 8:30 a.m.,” noted Mark Halpin, village trustee.

Gunnufson suggested that at budget time, the village board should look at the amount of overtime and compensatory time paid out and, if the amount is large enough, perhaps consider adding another employee.