05/09/07 — Employees protest hours; Fremont will talk budget

View Archive

Employees protest hours; Fremont will talk budget

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on May 9, 2007 1:49 PM

FREMONT -- Sewers, budgets and overtime caught the attention of Fremont town officials at a special meeting Tuesday.

About half of Fremont's public works employees attended the meeting to complain about the town's overtime policy.

The existing policy states that an employee can only work more than 40 hours per week if that employee's supervisor is granted permission by Town Administrator Kerry McDuffie.

Unless there is an emergency that requires an employee to work overtime, he or she is expected to go home once 40 hours of work have been reached.

But the public works employees who spoke to Fremont's Board of Alderman Tuesday said they just want to be treated fairly. Public works employees, unlike other town employees, may be called onto the job at any time of the day or night.

For example, if an electrical breaker shorted out during the middle of the night, employee Ray Bostic and his co-workers would be called to the scene. If the crew spends six hours fixing the problem, Bostic said that is six hours he must stay home another day.

"That means I sit by myself on Tuesday. I love being here, but I took this job so I could spend more time with my family and children. I want to be able to spend more time with my family and children," Bostic said.

Each employee who attended the special meeting was given the opportunity to speak to the town board about how Fremont's policy personally affects him during the board's closed session.

After almost two hours of listening to each employee's concerns, McDuffie suggested to the board that some of its members form a committee with town employees to examine how to improve Fremont's overtime policy. The members of that committee have not been finalized.

In other business, McDuffie said he should have a rough draft of the town budget completed by next Tuesday's regularly scheduled board meeting, but board members should not get their hopes up regarding its contents.

"It's not going to be anymore fun for you than it was last year," McDuffie said.

Also, board members are considering the approval of a contract that would analyze and possibly reopen the town's spray field. The entire analysis, including soil samples and an application to the state to reopen the field, could cost about $20,000, McDuffie said.

The money to pay for that contract could be taken from a loan the town has for another sewer project, he added.

If the spray field were reopened and held a capacity of 80,000 gallons of sewer per day, McDuffie said that would save Fremont about $400 a day, or $12,000 a month, that the town pays to Goldsboro to process its sewage.

Although the project would need a new employee and additional supplies and equipment, McDuffie said the town could save $80,000 a year if the spray field were reopened.

The board could decide next Tuesday whether it wants to sign the initial contract. The Fremont Board of Alderman will meet in Town Hall at 7:30 p.m.