EVANS — Town of Evans department heads will no longer be compensated time for attending regular town board meetings.
Evans Supervisor Keith Dash said that the switch was made for fiscal reasons.
“It’s what most fiscally responsible for the town,” Dash said, during the board’s Sept. 18 meeting. “It’s to the point when you do a budget that you have to make sure that the I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed and that everything and everybody are treated fairly. I don’t want to chase department heads away from town board meetings, but let’s face it: If there is nothing on the agenda that affects them, why do we have them come and then comp them time for being here? That was the reason for that.”
The supervisor said that this idea was brought to him by a local resident, “and I thought it was a valid point. I never really thought of it; moving forward after almost half of my term, I want the public’s suggestions. I want to be able to think outside of the box with the help of the residents, to not only balance budgets, but to make us lean and mean and transparent.”
He explained that compensated time has differed from department head to department head, due to a few factors.
“Some department heads are in different unions and different bargaining units,” he said. “Is it money or is it time and service? I think both have to be looked at, when doing a budget. Another issue is, what do you grant the comp time for? Do you comp them time if they don’t go home at 6 and they stay until the meeting? There are different issues and different contracts and you have to try and make it equitable for everybody, and I think that that is the smart way to go about it.
“If the town board grants comp time – and it doesn’t necessarily have to be in the way of money, but it’s time – time away from the town hall, which then leads to a lack of service for residents,” he said. “After researching this matter, I realized that, two supervisors ago, an order was issued that department heads should be present at all town board meetings.”
While department leaders will no longer have to be present at board meetings, there will be certain instances in the future, such as public hearings, etc., that could require them to be present, according to the board.
“I’m sure that, when a public hearing comes up on a planning issue or a community development issue, those department heads will be present,” Dash said. “If we’re going to appropriate money to the marina or to the town pool, you know those heads are going to be here. If there is an issue in highway or with signage, then our highway supervisor will surely be here.”
A future meeting will address whether or not the department heads will be compensated if they are required to be present at a board gathering, Dash said.
“Do I want to give comp time ever? No,” Dash said. “I would hope that you have enough pride in your job and your department that if there were an issue that the town board were considering that affects you or your department directly, you’d be present. We had department heads present here, at tonight’s meeting.”
Dash said that, if a resident is interested in bringing up town business with a department head, he or she may request that individual’s presence at a meeting. Residents wishing to request department heads at a particular meeting may do so by calling Dash’s office.
“My issue with that is, if there is something like, say a drainage issue, the [department of public works] head better be there; a building issue, the building inspector better be there,” he said. “But if a resident is going to request a department head to be there because they have a question under public comment, then why wouldn’t you contact the office of the department head, during the week?”
Dash said that, “if you look at the big picture, if I have to give them comp time to leave early on a particular day, then that’s less residents contact time they have, during regular business hours. To me that’s counterproductive.”
For more information, contact Dash at 549-5787 or visit www.townofevans.org