The Payson Town Council has loosened personnel rules, shuffled hours and positions to get through the town’s fiscal crisis.
The temporary changes will help Town Manager Debra Galbraith cope with layoffs, the loss of department heads and a freeze on overtime and new hires.
The council recently approved key changes. One change would loosen the compensatory time off rules, so that town workers can accumulate time off instead of collecting overtime when they work longer hours or fill in the shifts of missing workers.
A second rule change would enable the town manager to reward workers with extra vacation time or compensatory time instead of a higher pay rate if they fill in for department heads that have been laid off or have quit and not been replaced.
Recent personnel shifts have hit department heads hard. Earlier this year, a hiring freeze prevented the town from replacing Community Development Director Jerry Owens, when he resigned. More recently, Galbraith laid off Parks and Recreation Director Rick Manchester and also let go Finance Director Doug Hill at the end of his probationary period.
As a result, Zoning Administrator Ray Erlandsen has been serving as temporary planning director. Come January, other employees will have to assume many of the duties in running the finance and parks departments.
The council also approved other personnel changes, to clean up some items in its recent overhaul of the town’s personnel code in light of the new four-day, 10-hour work week.
That overhaul of the personnel code had been in process for more than a year and was approved by the council just in time to take effect before the recently announced layoff of seven full-time town employees and all of the part-timers, in an effort to trim $4.5 million from the $28 million town budget — based on declining revenue projections.
Two of the seven staff reductions involved department heads. As a result, Galbraith needs someone to manage parks, finance and planning departments without a department head — and without her administrative assistant, who was also laid off.
Among other things, the new personnel regulations made it easier to take various elements of job performance into account when cutting staff as a result of economic problems.
The latest changes in the personnel code would make sure that vacation hours count when calculating whether someone had earned overtime or comp time in any given time period. The town recently shifted to a four-day work schedule — working 10-hour days Monday through Thursday — but not coming to work on Friday. That change was approved by the council in hopes of saving $51,000 annually by not heating and lighting Town Hall on Fridays.
The changes ensure that workers get credit for 10 hours of holiday pay when it falls on a work day. The new rules will give town workers New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas as paid holidays.