Fryeburg restructuring Public Works Department

By Lisa Williams Ackley
Staff Writer

FRYEBURG — The Fryeburg Board of Selectmen unanimously endorsed a plan to restructure the Fryeburg Public Works Department, at their meeting last week.

A few months ago, the selectmen supported eliminating the manager’s job at the Fryeburg Transfer Station and appointing Gary Whitten to be Public Works Director in charge of both the Highway Department and the transfer station and recycling facility.

Now, the board members have agreed to back Town Manager Sharon Jackson’s plan to restructure the highway department and transfer station so as to have only full-time employees who are cross-trained in all job descriptions in both departments. She said her budget proposal for 2012 would include the restructuring plan for the Public Works Department.

“To me, it’s a no-brainer, because there is flexibility having all the full-timers qualified,” Selectman Ed Wilkey stated. “That’s a benefit for the town.”

“I feel it’s appropriate, and the sooner the better,” said Selectmen Chairman Tom Klinepeter.

Jackson said that, under the restructuring of the Public Works Department, “We would have six full-time staff to work at all Public Works locations trained to perform all work required with their job descriptions designating both primary and secondary responsibilities. This change would allow us to be more efficient by having a trained and qualified staff to work within the boundaries of the Public Works Department.”

“We are proposing the following changes needed due to combining the highway department, transfer station and recycling facility into one Public Works Department,” Jackson stated, in her Feb. 9 memo to the three selectmen. “The goal is to have all workers assigned to one primary job and also trained to fill the job requirements for secondary coverage as needed as part of the cross training demands of those jobs. The two highway workers currently meet all the qualifications and licensing requirements to work at all of the Public Works positions. The two transfer station workers do not meet the qualifications required to work at all of the Public Works jobs, therefore, the two Class IV positions would need to be advertised in order to fill these positions with qualified individuals. The current staff would be given the opportunity to apply for the new positions, if they want to have secondary responsibilities within the highway department and can meet the licensing requirements. Job descriptions have been drafted that require all Public Works staff to have the following qualifications in order to perform the job duties for the positions: Class C driver’s license; Valid A or B Commercial Driver’s license; insurable under the town’s vehicle insurance plan; air brakes endorsement; and the ability to be cross trained to perform work at any of the locations under the Public Works Department as needed.”

The town manager said staffing changes would include:

• eliminating the two part-time positions at the transfer station/recycling facility (minimum $21,250);

• eliminating the two part-time positions at the highway department (minimum $20,600);

• maintaining the Public Works Director (Class I job description);

• moving one of the two full-time highway positions to the Class II Public Works Foreman job description with pay adjustment from $15 an hour to $17 an hour. This person was hired full-time in December, 2009, Jackson said, at a pay rate of $15. The person moving to this position meets all of the qualifications within the job description;

• maintaining the second highway position with a Class III Public Works Highway job description with pay adjustment from $15 to $16 per hour. This individual was hired full-time in September, 2006 with no pay adjustment in the last three budget years. This person meets all of the qualifications within the job description;

• hiring one additional full-time Class III Public Works Highway position at a starting wage of $15 an hour; and

• advertising for two Class IV positions at the solid waste facility with an hourly rate of $13 an hour for both positions. When the person in this class is required to fill in and perform the work required under the Class III position, a $2 an hour adjustment will be given to meet the base rate paid.

A cost analysis prepared by the town manager shows that the current cost is $211,647, while the restructured Public Works Department would have a cost of $217,800, for a difference of $6,153.

Jackson said the cost analysis does not include budgeted overtime and is based on the base pay rate. Also not included, she said, is the additional cost for medical insurance for one new hire. The estimated medical premium for one employee paid at 100% is $7,960, and if family coverage is required at 65%, the premium would be $14,380.

In addition, Jackson said that currently part-time employees work 40 hours per week when they cover for vacations taken by the two full-time employees and during extended sick leave. She said the two part-time workers do earn sick time and vacation time at one half the rate earned by full-time employees, because they work year-round; however, they do not receive any benefits.

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