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The Richmond Finance Committee will recommend a budget adjustment of $14,000 to the water fund to provide on-call assistance over the weekends.
City Administrator Rick Childers asked for the recommendation Tuesday night at a regular Finance Committee meeting.
City Wastewater Superintendent C.E. Goodall has also been overseeing the Water Department functions as well. He said City Water Department heavy machinery operator Bob Duncan has worked on city water leaks five out of the last six weekends, while illustrating a need for having workers available.
He said it takes at least two, and more likely three men to fix any significant water leak that occurs. He said many times guys answer the phone, but are tied up or out of town.
“When you have to call three people and you only have four, that kind of cuts into the number of extra people you’ve got,” Childers said in reference to the number of workers available to call if there is a water leak. “We call the same people every weekend to fix our old system and they’re getting tired of showing up.”
“I just want somebody to answer the phone on the weekend when I call them, other than (Duncan)” Goodall added.
Under the budget proposal the city would schedule two workers to be on-call on Saturdays and Sundays. The city would pay each worker $2.00 an hour to remain on call. Childers said it would pay $60 a day for a total of $120 a day for both workers. Once an employee clocks in for work they will start earning regular wages or overtime wages if appropriate.
“When it’s 82 degrees and the fish are biting, they’ll stay home instead of going to the lake. That’s all that does,” Childers said. “We can’t ask people to not have a life.”
The matter came to light a couple of weeks ago when the issue was brought up that some guys were not answering phones on the weekend because overtime would not be involved.
The city came to an agreement with workers that overtime would be paid along with sick time, if the matter were legitimate. For instance, Childers said a worker a few weeks ago responded to a call on the weekend and then had a family emergency arise later in the week. He said that was a legitimate case where a worker was not taking advantage of the system. He also said that he feels very little of that goes on anyway.
Childers said other department employees would also be given an opportunity to sign up for on call. He said ideally he would like to have eight workers, so each would only have to work one weekend a month.
Councilwoman Melissa Miller said she wants strict rules in place if the council approves the proposal.
“There needs to be some serious repercussions if you don’t answer the phone and you are on call,” Miller said.