110 E. Walnut Street - Oglesby, Illinois 61348  ·  Phone: 815-883-3389

July 23, 2012 Minutes

August 17, 2012 by bclinard  
Filed under Council Meeting Minutes

 A PUBLIC MEETING WAS HELD ON MONDAY, JULY 23, 2012, AT CITY HALL TO ALLOW THE PUBLIC TO COMMENT ON ORDINANCE NO. 806-072312, FY 2012-13 APPROPRIATIONS.  THE MEETING WAS CALLED TO ORDER AT 5:45 P.M.

PRESENT:  COMMISSIONERS PORTER, DANEKAS, RIVARA, MAYOR FINLEY, ATTORNEY JAMES ANDREONI, CITY CLERK BECKY CLINARD.

ABSENT: COMMISSIONER YBORRA

Attorney James Andreoni explained to the audience that the Appropriations ordinance needed to be approved and filed with the county by July 31st.  He also noted that the ordinance has been on file at city hall for about two weeks.

Mayor Finley opened the floor for public comments.  Only one resident, Tod Misener, had questions for the council.  Misener asked what effect the appropriations would have on borrowing and how much over (expenses vs. revenue) the 2011-12 and 2012-13 appropriations showed.

A MOTION WAS MADE BY DANEKAS, SECONDED BY RIVARA to adjourn the public hearing at 5:50 p.m. AYES:  PORTER, DANEKAS, RIVARA, FINLEY MOTION CARRIED.

 

_____________________________
Becky Clinard, City Clerk

 

 

A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE OGLESBY CITY COUNCIL WAS HELD ON MONDAY, JULY 23, 2012, AT CITY HALL.  THE MEETING WAS CALLED TO ORDER AT 6 P.M.

PRESENT:  COMMISSIONERS PORTER, DANEKAS, RIVARA, MAYOR FINLEY, ATTORNEY JAMES ANDREONI, CITY CLERK BECKY CLINARD.

ABSENT: COMMISSIONER YBORRA

A MOTION WAS MADE BY DANEKAS, SECONDED BY RIVARA to approve Ordinance No. 806-072312, Appropriations for FY 2012-13.

There were no public comments.

A MOTION WAS MADE BY RIVARA, SECONDED BY PORTER to adjourn the meeting at 6:05 p.m. AYES:  PORTER, DANEKAS, RIVARA, FINLEY. MOTION CARRIED.

_____________________________
Becky Clinard, City Clerk

 

A WORKING MEETING OF THE OGLESBY CITY COUNCIL WAS HELD ON MONDAY, JULY 23, 2012, AT CITY HALL.  THE MEETING WAS CALLED TO ORDER AT 6:15 P.M.

PRESENT:  COMMISSIONERS PORTER, DANEKAS, RIVARA, MAYOR FINLEY, ATTORNEY JAMES ANDREONI, CITY CLERK BECKY CLINARD.

ABSENT: COMMISSIONER YBORRA

Mayor Finley addressed the audience, noting that six months ago the commissioners had been asked to “cut back” in their respective departments.  Finley outlined several areas in which departments had cutback:

o   The Parks Department decreased its overtime by 166 hours this year compared to the same period last year.

o   The street and parks departments have done jobs that would have been hired out in the past.  He estimated that work by the park and street department employees at McPhedren Park alone has saved the city more than $6,000.

o   The street department pulled its request for a new truck

o   Staffing at the swimming pool has been revised, with some employees asked to do more than in the past.

At that time, concerns about the ambulance director’s hours were raised.  Finley said that since nothing had been done, he had drafted an ordinance addressing the concerns.

The ordinance, Finley explained, makes the director’s position a salaried position.  The director would be paid $45,000 a year, beginning January 1, 2013.  He estimated the total wage and benefit package for the position would be $64,600.  The ordinance also creates the position of an assistant director.  The assistant director would work between 1,000 and 1,400 hours a year, which would make that person eligible for IMRF.  Finley said that he thought that person should be a paramedic, but that the ambulance director would be responsible for choosing the assistant director.  In addition, the ordinance addresses wages for the other employees and sets a limit on the number of hours part-time employees can work a year to 975.  Finley said that he also sought to simplify the wage schedule for ambulance employees, by eliminating the “four or five pay levels” for each type of employee.  Finley said the annual hours limit was necessary to eliminate payments to IMRF on behalf of part-time employees.  He noted that the city paid $33,091.62 in IMRF benefits in fiscal year 2011-12 on behalf of the ambulance service.  Of that amount, he said approximately $4,000 of that is paid on behalf of the director for hours above and beyond the 80 hours per pay period.

Finley said that he believed the ambulance service could continue to provide the same service to the community and still cut costs under this new wage ordinance.  He suggested that staff scheduling follow the state’s minimum requirement of 1 paramedic and 1 EMT B on staff 24 hours a day/7 days a week.

Commissioner Tom Porter, who oversees the ambulance department in his role of Commissioner of Health & Safety, then spoke.  Porter took issue with the proposed ordinance, saying that although he supported making all department head positions salaried positions, “I don’t believe this is the time to do it.”

Porter said he also does not believe that the proposed assistant director position should be part-time.  You can’t “give a part-time assistant management responsibilities,” he said.  As far as cutbacks in his departments, Porter said he “felt like I made cutbacks when I got elected.”  Porter said he eliminated positions and equipment purchases where he could.  “There is very, very little room for more cutbacks,” he said.

 “The ambulance service couldn’t survive” operating under the proposed restrictions, he warned. The ordinance “ties our hands, offers no flexibility.”  Porter credited Ambulance Director Cathie Edens and the ambulance staff for “bringing it up to a level of efficiency and professionalism.”  He said that he was not aware of any time in the last five years when the service failed to meet the call, including at least one occasion when 3 ambulances were dispatched on separate calls simultaneously. Porter mentioned the increasing number of ambulance transfers, saying that he would “hate to see anything that would damage,” the service’s ability to answer those calls.  He said he believed that “transfers would be off the table,” with the proposed restrictions on employee hours.  “You can’t staff (the ambulance) as easy as you think you can,” he told the other commissioners.

Porter also noted that the employees of the ambulance service “are the only employees that actively fund raise in an effort to improve the service and buy equipment.”  And that they “should be supported fully.”  As far as eliminating the driver position, Porter said he felt that there needed to be a driver.  “I don’t agree with the state’s minimum requirements,” he said.  “Find me a service that doesn’t use a driver,” he said.

Porter repeatedly praised the ambulance service and its staff, saying he was very pleased with the operation and the director’s work. 

Commissioner Danekas then expressed his concerns, saying that “the big reason why we had to write an ordinance” is the excessive hours.  Danekas said that Edens performance as a paramedic or the ambulance service’s performance overall was not the issue.  “We hired her to supervise,” he said.  Danekas pointed to the last pay period, noting that Cathie Edens had worked 202.5 hours in a two-week period.  “Why can’t we hire anyone in that department?” he asked.  Danekas pushed for hiring more employees to fill the hours, thus limiting the number of hours that Edens works and cutting the city’s costs. (Edens’ pay is subject to IMRF).

Porter acknowledged that he’s “never been completely comfortable” with the hours Cathie Edens puts in,” but that he “agreed to it to keep costs down. All emergency services work long hours,” he said. “It is not uncommon in the industry.”  Porter said it wasn’t unusual for an employee to work 24 hours at another ambulance service and then come to Oglesby and work an 8-hour shift.
 
Finley noted that the difference was that that employee was working for two departments, not one, like Edens.  Finley said that when he was on the ambulance board, Edens asked to fill in when an employee went on vacation and he believes that is when the number of hours Edens works began escalating.  He read off a list of total hours each year, noting the increase from year to year: 2007, 2,743.75 hours; 2008, 3972.5 hours; 2009, 4.451.5 hours; and 2010, 4,955 hours.

Porter said that at the time Edens lost her job in Peru, he made the decision that it was best to have her working additional hours in Oglesby versus for another department.  “She is 100 percent dedicated” to the service, he said.

Porter then again questioned why the ordinance was being considered now.  “The ambulance board has done a very good job overseeing the ambulance,” he said.  Finley countered that the ambulance board was supposed to address the issue months ago.  Porter disagreed, saying that he had not agreed to do anything at this time.  Finley produced an email from Porter that said the ambulance board would discuss it at “its next meeting.”  Porter contended that he has stated several times in executive session that he is not in favor of doing something until all of the department supervisor positions are discussed.

Wanda Lent, a member of the ambulance board, later questioned Finley, saying that “the ambulance board wasn’t aware,” that they were supposed to be addressing the issue.

Commissioner Rivara asked Edens what the ambulance staff did during those shifts when the ambulance is not responding to a call.  Edens said they have chores, including inventory and cleaning the ambulances.  He also asked about the number of calls a month (average of 40 per month) and how the service is staffed.  Edens said that an EMT-B and a paramedic are on duty 24/7, a driver is scheduled from 3 to 6 p.m. each day and from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. a driver is on call at volunteer pay ($2.19).

After each of the commissioners was allowed to speak, the Mayor opened the floor to the audience.  Cathie Edens, the ambulance director, was the first to speak.  Edens read from a prepared statement which she distributed to the council members. (A summary follows, the complete statement will be placed on file at City Hall.)

1.       The director’s pay offered, $45,000/year starting January 1, 2012, is actually $198.00 a year less than the salary Edens would have received beginning May 1, 2013.  Edens does not believe she will be able to fill the schedule with the 975 hours/year restriction imposed in the new ordinance.  She must schedule around everyone’s fulltime jobs and other commitments and only works those hours when no one else is available.

2.      The ambulance budget did not include the proposed increases in wages which will result from the new ordinance.  (The new ordinance would go into effect January 1, vs. May 1 2013.) She also opposes a single pay rate for each position, noting that some EMT Bs will receive a $2/hour raise and make the same as someone who has worked for the city for 25 years.  She also noted that home call out pay is a one-time pay, not an hourly wage.

3.      An assistant director is not needed.

4.      Limiting employees to 975 hours a year (18 hours a week) will undermine the service’s ability to respond to multiple calls.  The ambulance brought in $38,828.51 more dollars last fiscal year than projected.  Use this money to pay for IMRF.  The ambulance is willing to work hard to increase transfers to increase revenues, but with this ordinance it will be impossible to staff transfers.

5.      Minimum state staffing standards require 2 employees, one of which must be a paramedic.  This essentially does away with drivers, but then why are driver wages covered in the proposed ordinance?  Is the ambulance department being singled out?

6.      Edens said that she felt that the community needed to know her concerns about this proposed ordinance and that she felt the service’s ability to serve the citizens of Oglesby as well as they have in the past was in jeopardy.

Edens said that the ambulance employees never “wanted or asked for” IMRF benefits and would be willing to do without IMRF, but that many of them needed the hours to make a living.  Attorney Andreoni explained that the city had no choice other than to pay anyone who worked over 1000 hours IMRF. 

“When you take away the eight employees that get IMRF,” said Edens, “you take away the most valuable” employees.  “I’m scared,” she said.  Porter said that the $20,000 — $30,000 savings from doing away with IMRF for part-time employees is “such a small amount of money” to disrupt a service that is working well for the community.  Finley, noting the need to reduce costs, said that he found it hard to lay-off full-time employees when part-time employees were getting IMRF benefits.

Kevin Ewbank, a longtime member of the ambulance service, then spoke.  Ewbank has been a licensed EMT for 25 years.  On the topic of eliminating drivers, he noted that the driver position was a way to bring possible EMTs into the service slowly.  He also said that without full-time positions, Oglesby gets people with full-time jobs elsewhere, limiting the number of hours they are available.  That poses scheduling problems for Edens. 

Both Finley and Danekas responded that the department needed to actively recruit and hire new employees to fill in those times that are now being picked up by Edens and to pick up any uncovered hours that might result from the 975-hour limit.

Ilyssa Sargent said that she did not believe “people would be willing to come to Oglesby for a few extra hours.”  She and others expressed concerns that calls would go unanswered, putting Oglesby residents at risk.

 “How do you know? We’ve never tried it.” said Finley repeatedly.

Cheryl Popurella, a member of the Oglesby Ambulance Service for 25 years and one of the employees who receives IMRF, said she needs her hours.  “There has to be a different way (to cut costs), rather than cutting people’s throats,” she said.

Brad Anderson, an employee with both the ambulance and police departments, questioned why the swimming pool could have 5 or 6 people working at one time, when an ambulance could only have two.  The Mayor responded that the pool is staffed only during its hours of operation, when people are at the pool and the lifeguards are needed.  The ambulance may go a shift or even a day without being called out.

After a lengthy discussion, the Mayor asked the Ambulance Board to go over the proposed ordinance and bring back their recommendations.

A MOTION WAS MADE BY DANEKAS, SECONDED BY PORTER TO ADJOURN AT 8:32 P.M.  AYES; PORTER, DANEKAS, RIVARA, FINLEY. MOTION CARRIED.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

___________________________________   
Becky Clinard, City Clerk