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Colfax approves hiring third permanent public works employee

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX  —  Colfax will soon add a third permanent public works employee to work 32 hours per week.

The salary for a 32-hour per week public works employee is already included in the 2016 budget, said Scott Gunnufson, village president, at a joint meeting of the Colfax Village Board and the village board’s personnel committee December 14.

All members of the Colfax Village Board serve on the personnel committee.

Colfax currently uses two seasonal employees who work during the summer and early fall.

The 32-hour per week permanent position will replace the two seasonal employees and will give Rand Bates, director of public works, more help for snowplowing in the winter when it is needed.

Bates recently submitted to the village board a list of about 40 projects that a permanent employee could work on during the winter when that person is not needed to clear snow from the streets.

The 32-hour per week employee will be eligible for the Wisconsin Retirement System and also eligible for health insurance, with the village paying 70 percent of the premium and the employee paying 30 percent.

In addition to hiring another permanent employee, the Colfax Village Board also discussed promoting from within rather than advertising the position.

The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved a motion to hire a permanent 32-hour per week employee for the public works department and to promote from within to fill the position.

The village’s employee handbook allows employees to be promoted from within and does not require that the position be advertised, said Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer.

Keinn Steffe, who has worked for the village for several years as a seasonal employee, will be offered the 32-hour per week permanent position.

Contract dates

Should benefits for village employees, such as vacation and sick leave, be counted from the anniversary date for each employee or from January 1 for all employees?

The Colfax Village Board and the personnel committee have decided that all employees should be switched to a benefits schedule of January 1 to December 31.

If everything is based on January to December, then the village board can conduct employee evaluations in September and October and can include any raises when the budget is set for the following year, Niggemann said.

Employees all previously had separate contracts, but Niggemann said she discovered when going through the personnel files that some of the contracts had not been signed and that some of the employees did not have copies of their contracts.

The terms of employment are all included in the employee handbook, so the employee handbook should be sufficient, and a contract would not be necessary, Niggemann said.

The actual anniversary date is important for retirement benefits, but the WRS already has the anniversary date on file as soon as benefits start being paid into the system, she said.

Niggemann said she could send a letter to each employee stating available sick time and vacation time, how much would be prorated from the specific anniversary date to the end of the year and indicating that all would proceed from January 1 the following year.

The Colfax Village Board and the personnel committee unanimously approved a motion to use January 1 as an anniversary date for all employees and approved a separate motion indicating that employees would not have yearly contracts but would instead all be employed according to the employee handbook.

New employees will be given an “offer of employment” to sign when they are first hired.

All employees are required to sign the handbook, so that in itself is a contract, noted Keith Burcham, village trustee.

Klukas wondered if the employee handbook would need to be changed to reflect that no contracts would be issued to employees.

Niggemann said she would check to make sure.

The village board will be meeting December 28, so if changes to the employee handbook are needed, the board can address those changes at that meeting, she said.

Employee evaluations

The Colfax Village Board and personnel committee met in closed session to conduct employee evaluations.

When the board reconvened into open session, Gunnufson announced the following:

• On a vote of seven “yes,” the village board approved a 2.07 percent pay increase for Don Logslett, street supervisor/public works.

• On a vote of seven “yes,” the village board approved a 2.1 percent pay increase for Rand Bates, director of public works.

• On a vote of seven “yes,” the village board approved a 4.7 percent pay increase for Don Knutson, director of the Colfax Rescue Squad.

• On a vote of seven “yes,” the village board approved a 2.1 percent pay increase for Lynn Niggemann, administrator-clerk-treasurer.