Federal law could require McLouth city employees to work more hours
by Dennis Sharkey
Legislation that is being considered at the federal level may require more on-call hours for McLouth city employees.
City Administrator Carl Chalfant told the council at their last meeting that the city may be required to have an employee on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Chalfant said the requirements would be for any gas line service provider and would not affect other cities that do not service their own gas.
“It’s going to apply to any pipeline operator,” Chalfant said.
He said a gas pipeline explosion in California last year led lawmakers to this point.
Current city regulations for on-call pay call for a 1/6 pay of salary per hour and a minimum of two hours of pay if they are called out to a job.
The hourly pay is about $2.75 an hour and would cost the city about $150 a week or about $600 a month.
There are two city employees that the law would affect and would require one to work every other weekend unless Chalfant covers a weekend.
Both employees were on hand and said they did not believe it would be fair to them.
“It just seems like it’s taken too much of our life away,” one employee said.
Mayor Keith Meador said if Chalfant filled in some of the weekends he should be paid the same salary as the employees. Chalfant is considered a salary employee.
Councilman Harlan Woodring suggested the city seek a local person to contract with to take some of the hours. However, Chalfant said they may have to consider them a city employee and have to cover insurance.
The council tabled the matter until Congress acts.
In other actions:
• The city is considering joining other cities in the county in starting a recycling program that would be run by waste disposal contractor Shawn Ball.
Ball contracts with many of the county’s cities for trash service and has set up recycling bins for an additional $1 a month to each bill.
The cities of Perry, Oskaloosa and Valley Falls have all recently contracted with Ball for service.
Meador said he is pursuing a meeting between himself, Ball and the McLouth USD 342 school district. Meador said the best location for bins would be next to paper recycling bins already in the school’s northwest parking lot.
The bins would collect plastic containers, tin cans and glass.
• The city is working on a contract with J-N-R Rural Internet Service to put a wireless antenna on the top of the city’s water tower to provide wireless Internet service to the city.
Chalfant said the only issue he had with the proposal is insurance for the company and its equipment. Chalfant said he would also like to see more than $40 a month for the lease because the antenna would have to use city electricity.
• City Attorney Trevin Wray has suggested the city use a collection service that his firm offers to collect unpaid traffic fines.
Wray said the only avenues he has to collect fines are to suspend a license, which only works on certain offenses, or issue an arrest warrant.
Wray said he is wary of issuing warrants because it may strain the relationship the city has with the Sheriff’s Department.
“I’m always really (hesitant) about straining that relationship,” Wray said.
The city receives free jail space, and traffic fines are on the bottom of the totem pole Wray said.
Wray said the collection service isn’t 100 percent but is better than nothing.
• City Police Chief Marcus Koch approached the council with some changes he would like to see to the city codes concerning pit bull dogs. The breed of dog is banned from the city.
Koch said two recent incidents led him to seek the change. In both cases the animal’s owner denied that they were pit bull dogs. Koch requested that the code require a dog owner to provide a picture or have the dog examined when they are registering the dog. Koch also said language needs to be inserted into the code that deems the dogs dangerous.
• The council may consider some funding to the Jefferson County Service Organization for their transportation program. The program lost more than $30,000 in funding last month.
• Chalfant received a bid to clean and inspect the city’s newer water tower for $2,250.
He also told the council to consider the removal of the city’s old water tower. He said maintenance on the tower is becoming costly because of underlying coats of paint that may be lead based. He said some companies want between $40,000 and $50,000 to completely remove the paint.
Nortonville recently removed their old water tower at a cost of $14,000.
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