County Workers Get $750 Bonus

Supervisors schedule Dec. 11 briefing on Pine water takeover

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Some 700 county employees are getting an early Christmas gift from the Gila County Board of Supervisors in the form of a one-time bonus.

The supervisors on Nov. 19 approved the county manager’s recommendation to use $525,000 to provide a one-time bonus to the county’s workers — which amounts to about $750 each.

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Tommie Martin

The pay increase was included in the 2013-2014 county budget.

Don McDaniel pointed out, “Making a one-time, lump-sum payment to each employee rather than making a step adjustment in each employee’s pay grade has the advantage of allowing the board of supervisors the flexibility of funding the payment each year depending on the availability of funds … not obligating the board to a con­tinuing pay in­crease is prudent use of taxpayers’ dollars … This is fair to employees and is based upon the Consumer Price Index (which showed a cost of living increase of 1.8 percent) … It is fair to the taxpayers for the same reasons.”

Pine water district plan

While not an agenda item, during the Call to the Public, the issue of the mass resignation of the board of the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District came before the board.

Strawberry resident Richard James asked, “What is the board going to do about the PSWID resignations? I’d like to request the other two (Tom Weeks and Sam Schwalm) continue to operate as elected officials.”

The board could not respond to James directly since the item wasn’t on the agenda.

The board has received resignations from PSWID board members Ray Pugel, Gary Lovetro, Ron Calderon, Richard Dickinson and Michael Claxton, but has not taken action to accept them.

Because the PSWID bylaws call for a seven-member board, the two remaining board members don’t constitute a quorum.

District One Supervisor Tommie Martin represents the Pine and Strawberry areas, as well as Payson. She asked McDaniel to have the county attorney and elections office research the options available to running the PSWID. With the resignations, the PSWID board of directors is effectively dissolved and the management becomes the responsibility of the supervisors.

Martin said she would have a meeting on the PSWID at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 11 at the Pine Community Center. At that meeting she hopes to answer the community’s questions and discuss the district’s future. She went on to say she would like to “continue” the PSWID’s regular board meetings, even though there is no board, to keep the residents informed about what is happening with the district and hear about any special concerns they may have regarding their service.

In addition to James, several members of the PSWID recall group attended the board meeting and continued the discussion with Martin afterward.

Richard Hawthorne, chairman and spokesman for the Recall PSWID Board effort, followed up the discussion with an e-mail, which he copied to the Roundup.

In the e-mail he said that recall supporters in just 21 days had gathered more than enough signatures to force an election. They needed between 200 and 245 signatures for each board member and had more than 400 per board member collected already.

Hawthorne said the group would continue to collect signatures and submit them on Dec. 3 “unless we receive word that the resignations have been accepted by the county board of supervisors.”

He asked the supervisors to give residents input on development of “a plan to proceed with getting the PSWID back on track.”

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