More Naples town office staff hours needed?

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — The quantity of phone calls and number of customers at the front counter of the Naples Town Office keeps staff going ‘straight out.’

Town Manager Derik Goodine said that employee Kate Matthews, his assistant who also helps the code enforcement department, is often called to the front counter or asked to field general inquiries.

“I will be talking to her, and then suddenly, she doesn’t answer me because she has gone to help at the front desk,” Goodine said.

To remedy the situation and allow staff to complete pressing projects, Town Clerk Judy Whynot asked Goodine to budget more hours for one part-time employee.

“The money is included in the administration budget. The difference is $18,400 taking the job from 23 to 35 hours,” Goodine said.

The budgetary amount would include salary and benefits, he said.

Employee Kim Thomson, who has been with the town for four years, would increase the number of hours that she now works.

According to both Goodine and Code Enforcement Officer Renee Carter, the increase is needed so that employees can keep up with the pace of the town office, and staff can still attend to other tasks.

While how busy the town office can get throughout the day was not up for debate, some members of the Naples Board of Selectman asked whether it was fair to bring it to the public on such short notice.

After all, the Naples Budget Committee did not review the item. Therefore, the committee voted on an administrative budget that is $18,400 less than the town manager’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2014–15.

During the board meeting on Monday, the selectmen discussed the matter.

Selectman Robert Caron II said he would like to see other avenues explored.

Caron’s question, “Would the extra eight hours a week be helpful?” was answered with a series of specific examples of how crazy busy the workload can get as staff are shuffled around to cover the greatest need.

Selectman Christine Powers said she would like to help out by supporting the increase in hours, but she was uncertain about the short timeline of the administrative request.

“Judy has tried to get this done for two years,” Chairman Dana Watson said.

“She feels like this is critical. We have this person who is trained, that we are going to lose if we don’t support” more hours, Watson said.

Goodine explained that Whynot was on vacation during the time period the budget committee was putting together the budget.

“Until she was here, I was not going to recommend it,” Goodine said.

Powers said it might bring up “a lot of questions at Town Meeting.”

Watson said, “Town meeting is the place for it.”

Powers clarified her perspective.

“I am not placing any concern in the need. I am voicing concern in the process,” she said.

The proposition — increasing the hours of a staff member — will be included in the Warrant Article for the Administration portion of the municipal budget.

Goodine predicted that during the Naples Town Meeting on June 4, it is likely that voting residents “are going to ask why the budget committee had a different number.”

“I am guessing that someone from the public will ask about it,” he said.

 

 

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