The Cherokee Fire and Rescue Department requested $15,000 from the Cherokee County Board of Supervisors at the Board's meeting on Tuesday.
CFRD representatives Hank Hayes and Roger Frisbie stated their case for needing a new lightweight vehicle or 'Brush Truck' for battling grassfires.
Hayes and Frisbie told the Board that every vehicle the department currently has, has gotten stuck when called to a grassfire. They stated to the Board that they would prefer a vehicle that has four-wheel drive. They also reassured the Board that this vehicle would not be a city unit - it would be intended to be a mutual aid vehicle serving rural areas as well, and would last the department for the next 20 years.
The CFRD responds to calls in Cherokee County Townships. The Board told Hayes and Frisbie that they would see what they could find for funding. Hayes and Frisbie also informed the Board that they would not need the funds until next fiscal year, which starts in July.
The Board also heard from Jerry Chizek, Regional Director of the Iowa State University Extension, who updated the Board on the Extension's recent restructuring. Currently, Cherokee County fall into the ISU Extension District 6, along with Buena Vista, Sac, Ida, and Calhoun Counties. Chizek took this opportunity to meet with the Board to inform them that he would be in Cherokee at least once a week, and is looking forward to working with ISU extension programs and development within Cherokee County. Chizek informed the Board that his main role would be in education.
Sheriff Dave Scott and 911 Director Dave Skou requested an amendment to the current labor contract for the law enforcement center employees. The current contract states: "All employees covered by this contract shall receive overtime pay or compensatory time off, at the rate of time and one-half when they work in excess of eight hours in one 24-hour period, in excess of 40 hours in one week, or in excess of 171 hours in a 28-day period.
The choice between receiving overtime in wages or in compensatory time off shall be at the discretion of the employee."
The contract addresses pay on holidays as: "All employees, including part-time employees, who are scheduled to work on a recognized holiday are to be paid at the rate of time and one-half for each hour actually worked."
The employees have requested the option to get paid straight time for the hours worked on a holiday and to bank the additional holiday pay rate as compensatory time off to be used at a later date.
As an example, eight hours worked on a holiday would be paid as eight hours straight time and four hours of compensatory time banked for later use. Under the current contract, holiday pay does not qualify for compensatory time because it is not overtime, but rather part of the regular eight hour shift and 40 hour week and is paid at 1 1/2 times the regular wage.
In other business, the Board talked to County Attorney Ryan Kolpin regarding holiday pay language in the county's contract with the Secondary Roads Department. At the previous Board meeting, Cheryl Gordon, wife of Cherokee County Roads employee Bill Gordon, expressed her concerns regarding the holiday pay language in the current county contract . Gordon felt that her husband and other county employees weren't paid appropriately during a recent holiday.
Payroll, along with other billing issues, has recently been transferred from the Secondary Roads Department, from the Secondary Roads office to the County Auditor's office, and Interpretation of the language in the contract seemed to be the reason why employees didn't receive as much pay for their holiday time.
It is the belief of the Board, the County Auditor's office and the County Attorney's office, that prior to the Auditor's office taking over payroll, the Secondary Roads members had been overpaid for years under their interpretation of holiday pay language.
Kolpin informed the Board that if it is proven that employees had received time -and- a -half, and in some cases double time, on top of their holiday pay several times, it would fall under "prior practice," and the Board would have to wait until the contract expires before contract language could be changed. Unfortunately for the Board, they just recently signed a three-year contract with the Secondary Roads Department. Kolpin also said that the burden of proof to show when they were paid previously would fall on the employees . The Board decided to open an investigation into this issue to see if this has indeed been a prior practice.