The part-time status of a new public power supervisor in Oak Harbor is under fire.
In the final weeks of 2012, the village hired Jim Smith to replace Barry Reau, who left his job of more than 10 years due to tensions with the administration, especially recently departed administrator Robert Pauley.
At last week’s village council meeting, Sue Rahm questioned when a full-time supervisor would be hired. Smith, a retired Ohio Edison worker, now makes $26 an hour for a 30-hour work week. His second in charge, Bruce Pape, makes $10 extra each week for the other 10 hours when Smith is absent.
Mayor Bill Eberle, who filled the position with the assistance of Pauley, told Rahm no plans were in place to hire anyone else.
Rahm was disturbed by the news, she said, because the village has no job description for a part-time supervisor to oversee the power department as well as no wage scale.
The mayor disputed her comments, noting he didn’t believe the village had any formal designation regarding full-time status tied to the position.
“Yes, it does,” said Rahm as she held up pages from the personnel policy. “It’s classified full-time.”
“I’ll get with Debbie (Carpenter, village fiscal officer) and look at it.”
“What do we do in the mean time?” Rahm asked.
Smith will continue to be the superintendent, Eberle said.
But Rahm insisted a part-time position does not exist and, therefore, the village cannot pay Smith based on the full-time position wage scale. She asked who else applied for the position.
There were two others. One was a journeyman who didn’t qualify and the other, Pape, who works in the department.
“We offered it to him twice, but he turned it down,” Eberle said.
Councilman Jon Fickert asked what wage the village offered Pape.
The mayor said he did not recall the exact figure and didn’t want to mislead anyone.
When pressed again, Eberle said he believed the figure was $25.99 per hour.
A woman in the audience, who only identified herself as Pape’s wife, said the original wage offered was $24.99 per hour. Pape currently earns $23.32 per hour, according to Carpenter.
“He said he would do it for $26,” the woman countered.
The mayor disagreed, saying Pape said he wanted $28 per hour or he wouldn’t take the job.
“Maybe you should go back and ask him,” Rahm added.
The village already has an electrical department supervisor, another council member pointed out.
“But he’s part time,” Rahm stated firmly. And, the village doesn’t have a job description or wage scale for the job, she stated again. It’s illegal, she insisted.
Pape couldn’t be reach at work Wednesday for comment.
The situation directly contradicts another recent hiring, some council members contend.
Fickert noted that when Randy Genzman, the village’s operations manager, was hired to fill the interim administrator position “there was a tremendous urgency” for council to create and pass the interim job classification.
“I guess I did not think about it being part-time,” Eberle said. “And that is where I was wrong.”
The advantage of the part-time status is it requires no benefits, the mayor pointed out. The village saves cash by not having to pay full-time benefits.
The conversation trailed into a need to review the workforce pay scale because of inequities throughout departments between bosses and workers created by compensation for licenses and other technical skills.
Rahm wanted a legal opinion from Village Solicitor Jim Barney regarding the part-time position. Barney said he would check into it but needed time to research the issue. He added that he had talked to Rahm three times in the past two weeks and that she had not mentioned the subject.
Rahm apologized, saying she had only just learned of the situation in recent days.
She said she remained uncomfortable that things would remain status quo even after the issue came to light.
“I never gave it any thought. I was just happy to have someone here,” the mayor said.