NL council, board discuss clerk's salary
By TRISHA PHELPS
Mt. Pleasant News
NEW LONDON — At last month’s New London City Council meeting, the utilities board asked the council to pay half of the new utility billing clerk’s salary, a request the council denied, and the utility board isn’t entirely sure how to proceed.
“Since the vote last month about sharing the cost of our utility clerk, we have received a large amount of applications,” said utility board chairman Jerry Wilhelm. “We need to put together a job description and with you not participating in hiring the individual, paying them or showing any interest in cross-training them, we are kind of at a standstill on how we want to go with this.”
The council voted to pay the new utility clerk’s salary while they are training, with the utility board continuing to pay the salary after the training is complete. Current Utility Clerk Jeri Lyles will be retiring in August, so the utility board is hoping to have her replacement hired by April in order to have adequate training.
Wilhelm reminded the council that the current utility clerk does utility work as well as work for the city. According to city officials, Lyles does all of the city’s billing each month.
“I can’t say how much time it takes her to do all of that, but it is done every month,” said New London City Clerk Kasi Howard.
While Lyles’ position for the utility board includes utility work and city work, her salary has previously been paid only by the utility board. The city clerk position, however, also does work for both entities but half of that salary is paid by the city with the other half being paid by the utility board.
“I am the secretary for both boards, do payroll, HR and anything else. While I can’t say that I split my time exactly 50/50, it is more like whatever needs done I make sure is done,” said Howard.
Wilhelm stated that since the city isn’t going to be paying the utility clerk, the board doesn’t feel that their employee should be doing any city work, and that tracking time spent on city work by this employee may not be worth the effort.
“If we want to divide this time up and you want to pay part of the whatever by the hour, you are going to have them writing down 15 minutes for this and 15 minutes for that and that is going to take more time and be way less productive,” said Wilhelm.
During the public forum, art teacher from New London Community School District Joe White told the council of the high school’s plans to have a community day in which students would be cleaning up around town.
“We did this community day last year and took on all sorts of different projects,” said White. “We had kids cleaning yards for elderly, cleaning out ditches, cleaning the park as well as other places. We had kids everywhere.
“We are trying to instill in our kids that this is their town and we want them to take pride in it,” White continued. “That being said, this year on April 17 is our scheduled work day and we are coming to you to volunteer our services for anything the city would like to have done.”
One councilmember didn’t think the work day was a great idea.
“I think it is a waste of time because of the disrespect of the kids that don’t go to school,” said Councilman Frank Staley. “If you plant flowers they aren’t going to last long. The ones putting them in aren’t going to be the ones tearing them up. Those ones don’t go to school.”
The next city council meeting will be April 1, at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall.