Morenci city council 2013.06.12

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Morenci city council members worked through a variety of personnel issues during the June 10 meeting, including a resignation and a change in policy.

Council voted to accept the resignation of DPW worker Barry Stover who accepted a position at a local industry. His final day on the job is Friday.

This should clear the way for Eric Emmons to remain with the DPW, said city supervisor Barney Vanderpool. Emmons was to be laid off June 30 due to a reduction in the city revenue for the next fiscal year.

Council heard the first reading of a proposed change to the employee handbook. Mayor Keith Pennington would like council to vote on the issue at the June 24 meeting.

The recommendation is for the city to change from a “just cause” employer to an “at will” employer. This would remove the progressive discipline steps for nonunion workers and instead allow the city to fire an employee at will.

Morenci is one of the only communities in the region that still uses just cause, said city administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder.

“As a salaried employee,” said library director Colleen Leddy, “it feels like an unfriendly relationship.”

Pennington asked why salaried employees should be given an extra layer of protection that other employees don’t have.

“I don’t see a benefit to the city,” Pennington added. “I think it’s more of a benefit to the city to be an at-will employer.”

The city’s attorney and liability insurer both advise moving in that direction, Schroeder said.

The contracts that department heads sign are in conflict with the employee handbook, Pennington said, and he would like them to mesh. He wondered if contracts are even needed.

Councilor Tracy Schell said that some sort of contract or agreement is good to have for department heads, although she doesn’t think it needs to be renewed annually.

An agreement for each position would allow the city to better negotiate with a prospective employee, she said. For example, someone might be willing to work for less pay along with more vacation time. She stated that an initial agreement when an employee is first hired is important to have.

Pennington favored separate job descriptions without the use of contracts.

Council member Brenda Spiess sees no value in contracts. Any minor changes  should be handled by human resources department, she said, which is the city administrator.

A motion to continue using an agreement in addition to the employee handbook failed on a 3-4 vote. A second motion stated that all non-union employees will be governed by the employee handbook, with any negotiated exceptions tracked in a personnel file by the administrator. That passed by a 5-2 vote, with Schell and Robert Jennings voting against the motion.

ADMINISTRATOR—Councilor Jeff Bell announced that three additional interviews are scheduled for the city administrator/clerk position.

FIRE DEPARTMENT—Cody Thompson was approved to re-join the fire department.

  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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