Colfax votes not to hire new full-time public works employee

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX  —  The Colfax Village Board has approved not hiring another full-time employee for the public works department.

The village board first considered the proposal for another full-time employee at a joint meeting of the personnel committee and the village board February 9 and made the final decision at the February 23 meeting.

The public works department employs two part-time seasonal workers in the spring, summer and fall.

Rand Bates, director of public works, reported at the February 9 meeting that Don Logslett will most likely be retiring sometime in the next five years

Logslett will have his “golden number” sometime in the next year or year-and-a-half for state retirement and could retire at any time after that point, he said.

Knowing that Logslett may be retiring soon, it might be a good idea to hire another full-time person so the employee can work into Logslett’s position, Bates said.

Logslett holds certifications and licenses for operating the water and sewer utilities.

Bates holds certifications and licenses for operating the water and sewer utilities as well.

Keinn Steffe, who has been working seasonally for the village, already has the training, certifications and licenses that would be needed for Logslett’s position, Bates said, adding, “that’s what he went to college for.”

Scott Gunnufson, village president, said it would be helpful to know a timetable for Logslett’s retirement, whether it would be one year or five years until he retires.

The money to pay another full-time employee “starts ramping up,” he said.

On the other hand, the village “would hate to lose Keinn,” Gunnufson said.

The village also employs Tom Moen as part-time seasonal worker.

This winter has had very little snow plowing, but during a winter like last year, it would have been nice to have another full-time person, Bates noted.

The maximum number of hours per part-time seasonal worker is 1,200 per year.

If Steffe takes a job somewhere else, the village board will have to consider what it would cost to get him back if he was needed in, say, 18 months, noted Bill Anderson, Colfax police chief.

Police Chief Anderson attended the joint meeting between the personnel committee and the village board to address the issue of increasing the pay for part-time police officers in Colfax.

Carey Davis, village trustee, said the village should put the idea on hold right now for hiring another full-time public works employee.

“If he walks, then we pay the price,” he said.

The personnel committee and the Colfax Village Board approved a motion to table hiring another public works employee indefinitely.

Under Robert’s Rules of Order, an item can only be tabled until the end of the meeting and must be taken up again before the meeting adjourns.

The personnel committee and the Colfax Village Board held another brief meeting February 23 to clarify the motion and to make a recommendation to the village board about not hiring another full-time public works employee.

The personnel committee should in August or September review the part-time seasonal hours that were needed over the summer to determine how the amount spent would compare to a full-time employee, said Mark Halpin, village trustee.

If more man hours are needed, the personnel committee and the village board should be ready to work with the department heads at any time during the year, Gunnufson said.

The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved the recommendation from the personnel committee to not hire another full-time public works employee.

Other business

In other business, the Colfax Village Board:

• Approved a facility rental request from Loyalty to Our Land for the Colfax Municipal Building auditorium on March 18 to show and discuss the film, “The Price of Sand” from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

• Approved increasing the pay for part-time police officers in Colfax as of March 1 to $14.50 an hour from $12.85, which has been the pay rate for almost a decade.

• Approved a recommendation from the personnel committee to offer health insurance to 30-hour per week employees with the village paying 75 percent of the premium and the employee paying 25 percent of the premium.

• Approved resolution 2015-02 transferring village funds from a Wealth Builder account at Dairy State Bank to a Money Market account. The account is used as a savings account to hold funds for the village until they transferred as needed to an account at Bremer Bank. Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, said it had come to her attention that transfers from the Wealth Builder account resulted in a transaction fee of around $20 but that the village would not pay any fees for transferring funds out of the  Money Market account.

• Scheduled a special meeting of the village board as a code committee to review ordinance revisions on March 2 at 6 p.m.