MARINETTE - The chairman of the Marinette Water and Wastewater Utility Commissions wants to form a subcommittee to investigate the overtime issue at the water utility.
Jeff Zeratsky on Monday proposed making a subcommittee to investigate and report to the joint commissions why the utility generates so much overtime work for the employees and what they can do to fix the problem.
"We need to figure out why we have so much overtime, why is it there?," Zeratsky said. " How do we get a better handle on this to figure it out?"
Commission member Steve Genisot agreed, saying he's been asked by the public what the commissions have been doing to fix the overtime situation at the water utility and he hasn't been able to give a satisfactory answer.
"We had better get some answers soon because I think we've all been stopped on the street by someone asking what we're doing to fix this situation," he said. "I don't have all the answers but we can't just keep pushing it to the next month here."
Financial Director Kathy Cleven warned that the situation may need more than internal reflection to solve.
"I would also like to ask that when you do a study to not just look inside but to contact other utilities within the state," she said. "I'm asking for a bigger picture than just looking internally to really do it right. Please look further than just right here and trying to solve the problem completely yourself."
Zeratsky and Tim Peterson, water utility administrator, will meet later this month to form the subcommittee and asked any commission members to step forward if they were interested in being a part of it.
Also, because of the recent change of office managers, Cleven announced that the utility has had difficulty arranging payments to the City of Marinette to keep the stormwater and refuse fee payments current. So far, the money has been used to keep the water utility operational.
"We do need to be very careful with your expenses," she added. "It's going to be very close with your cash flow for the foreseeable future. I am very serious when I ask that you use the resources that are out there and not just look internally but also externally. There will be more debt to contend with next year if we finance capital projects and pay back the debt to the city. The cash flow issues are not going away."
The overtime incurred in September was the lowest one-month total at the utility this year.
"I think we need to look at all the things we are doing right and look for the lessons in those things and try to build on the things that we are doing right," Cleven added.
Peterson proposed creating a salaried position for chief utility operator. He said that the idea had been visited a number of times in the past but the labor attorneys did not feel the position warranted being on a salary instead of an hourly pay schedule.
Recently, Peterson received a position description from the attorneys that he felt would be beneficial to the utility and fills the criteria for a salaried position.
However, the proposal met with some opposition.
"This utility has no money," Mayor Denise Ruleau said. "This utility owes the city and they have to borrow to pay back the money the utility owes the city. This does not bode well for the community and the taxpayers."
Even though Cleven mentioned the position had the potential to save the utility up to $20,000 in overtime pay, she said she has not yet worked on it to receive the exact numbers of what it would cost to have that position.
Another concern was that they were creating a salaried position to avoid paying overtime.
"I think this is premature," said commission member Ken Keller.
The commissions decided to table the matter until the members received more documentation about the job description and the cost to the utility.
Zeratsky ended the meeting by informing the commissions that he will be performing a job evaluation on Peterson.
Peterson's last job evaluation took place in 2005.
Keller expressed concern about not having any say in the evaluation, but it was agreed that the commissions members would have the chance to submit any concerns or comments about Peterson's evaluation before it takes place.