To keep staff, Chatham offers part-timers benefits

CHATHAM–The Village Board voted last week to give part-time employee health benefits after months of discussion and debate. Only three village employees, who are not in the union bargaining unit, would be eligible for the benefits. Part-time work is considered 20 hours a week or more.

The employees who would now be able to receive health benefits are the clerk, the deputy clerk and the police chief.

Mayor Tom Curran, and trustees Lenore Packet and Adrienne Morrell voted in favor of giving the health benefits at the December 11 meeting. Trustees Jay Rippel and Mike Wollowitz voted against. According the breakdown employee benefits provided by Village Clerk Barbara Henry, the maximum cost to the village, per employee, would be $8,881.64 a year for 20-hour-a-week employee, which includes the police chief and the deputy clerk. Coverage for the village clerk would cost the village $10,147.46.

Both Mr. Wollowitz and Mr. Rippel took issue with the HRA (health reimbursement account), which would be the same for part-time and fulltime employees. Mr. Rippel also said that he was part-time employee who did not receive health benefits at his work and that the village employee’s salaries were “on par with other municipalities.”

Although he opposed the measure, Mr. Wollowitz acknowledged that keeping qualified employees had been a problem for the village.

Ms. Morrell said, “Retentions benefit everybody,” she said.

“I think this is something we need to do to retain employees,” said Mayor Curran.

The board decided to vote on the issue since, as Ms. Henry pointed out, the plans offered would change in January and the board is halfway through fiscal year, which begins in June for villages. She said the board will be reviewing the budget this spring as it prepares the new spending plan and can find the funds for the benefits at that time.

The board began debating this issue in the fall, after losing a deputy clerk to a job that offered health benefits. Last April another clerk left for a fulltime position. Ms. Henry, who was the village business administrator, moved into the clerk position with no health benefits at that time.

The board does not know whether all three of the newly eligible part-time employees will take the benefits. Ms. Henry said that voting for the benefits meant that the anyone who serves in these positions in the future will also be eligible for the benefits. “You can’t base it on personalities,” she said of the vote, stressing that the employees could always change.

The board decided to put a 90-day probation period for new employees before they become eligible for the benefits.

Also at the meeting the board approved but did not schedule public hearings on several proposals. Board members plan to set the fee for snow removal on private properties at $75 for first 100 feet and $35 for every foot after that. The fee will be included on the tax bill of owners who do not remove snow and ice snow within 24 hours after a storm. The village Department of Public Works will remove the snow.

Another matter that will require a hearing involves parking tickets, which currently do not get filed with the county and are hard to collect. And the trustees must address overnight parking at parking lots owned by the village.

In addition Mayor Curran said the board would try to propose a village law to issue parking permits for the lot behind businesses on Main Street, but that plan needs further discussion before it is ready for adoption.

The next board meeting will be January 8 at 7 p.m. in the Tracy Memorial.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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