Despite the topic of cuts overtaking two council work sessions and a three-hour special called session this month, Weaver Mayor Wayne Willis said Monday he’s willing to back off his plan to cut all overtime pay until the fiscal year ends in five months.
Willis said “after numerous meetings and discussions” he met with Weaver police Chief Wayne Bush and Public Works Director Joey Conger to hash out a new course of action to save the city money without cutting all overtime pay.
“I said ‘What’s it going to take to get us back on track,’” Willis said. “They assured me they’re going to make an effort to look at their departments and cut overtime where they can without me micromanaging every department.”
Willis had originally proposed the cuts in efforts to save Weaver an estimated $50,000. On top of eliminating nonessential training programs for city employees and additional pay for department heads attending city meetings, Willis said he thinks the cuts suggested by the department heads of Public Works and the Police Department could save roughly $25,000.
Bush and Conger had mixed reactions to the proposed cuts to overtime, which would be replaced with compensatory time off for employees. Bush said the cuts aren’t needed and might jeopardize employee morale. He also raised concerns about having to keep his officers from patrolling outside the city limits.
Attempts to reach Bush on Monday were unsuccessful.
Willis said that layoffs, a hiring freeze, pay cuts and ending patrols outside the city limits are off the table for discussion for now. The proposed cuts to overtime are an attempt to avoid those more drastic cuts further down the line.
“If we keep going the way we’re going now, Weaver is going to go bankrupt,” Willis said.
Any plan of action involving cuts would still need council approval, but Conger said the reaction to the department heads making their own gradual cuts has gone down better with employees, and allows for more flexibility in scheduling.
“He’s leaving it up to the department heads to see if we can cut overtime ourselves before he makes any cuts,” Conger said. “It’s up to me, and Chief Bush to see what we can do in our own departments.”
When cuts were first discussed earlier in the month, Conger said he couldn’t guarantee no one would walk out on the job. But Monday, Conger said after talking with the nine employees at Public Works, he doesn’t feel anyone is in a rush to leave.
“Any time you make cuts people are going to feel like they’re getting a raw deal,” Conger said. “But they have to understand this is overtime, we’re not cutting their regular hours.”
Conger said in the last fiscal year, public works used about 1,700 hours of overtime.
The proposal to cut overtime pay was met with some skepticism from the council as well. Councilman Jeff Clendenning said the reason overtime pay was put in place for the Public Works Department was to make sure someone could be on call during nights and weekend hours.
“I don’t think there’s much incentive to work if you’re not getting paid or not getting time and a half,” Clendenning said.
Clendenning said the new proposal for department heads will likely keep morale up for the workers as Weaver works on long-term solutions to save money.
“I think it’s a great idea, and if we call can work together without hurting anyone we can come to an easy solution,” Clendenning said. “This is the first step.”
Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.