Morenci city council 2014.06.11

By DAVID GREEN

Morenci’s city hall will soon have new hours and some employees will have new duties.

City council members voted Monday to extend city hall hours until 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and to close the office on Fridays. City hall would still open at 8 a.m.

During a committee meeting, city administrator/clerk Michael Sessions told council members that the early evening hours would give citizens more opportunities to pay utility bills and attend to issues with the building department.

The change would also allow the City to have only two part-time employees, Sessions said, who would work in conjunction with the two full-time workers.

Tecumseh operates on a four-day plan, Sessions said, and the city manager there said that residents appreciate the extended hours.

During a committee meeting before the regular council meeting, Sessions’s suggestion to close on Friday met with some resistance from councilors at first, but he pointed out that there are few Friday afternoon visitors.

No matter which day is chosen, said council member Pearl Phelps, some people will find the closure to be inconvenient, but council agreed that either Friday or Monday would be best.

The change is expected to trim about $5,000 from the budget. The hours change is scheduled to begin June 30.

In order to make the new plan work, a change in job descriptions was also needed. Council approved that measure by a 6-1 vote, with Ron Apger opposing the motion.

City hall had been staffed by three full-time positions—treasurer, utility clerk and administrator/clerk—plus a part-time deputy clerk.

With the change, city treasurer Crystal White will also take on the duties of the utility clerk to handle water and sewer payments in addition to accounts receivable, plus other duties.

Diane Varga will fill the role of the deputy clerk who will be involved in elections, correspondence, citizen complaints, providing assistance to other employees and other duties.

A new part-time position will be known as accounts payable/payroll clerk. An advertisement for that position is published in this week’s Observer.

Each of the part-time employees would work two alternating eight-hours days.

Currently, the treasurer handles receivables and payables—an arrangement criticized by auditors as a lack of “internal control.” The new arrangement will split accounting duties between two people.

“I think the separation of duties between accounts receivable and payables is a very good thing and long overdue,” said councilor Brenda Spiess.

RESIGNATION—Ann Emrick will leave her post as a police department assistant at the end of the month.

DAY REC—Sherri Dillon will return as director of the summer recreation program and be paid $10.50 an hour. Activities will be planned on Tuesdays and Thursdays from July 8 to Aug. 14.

FIRES—Fire chief Brad Lonis said the department has responded to 90 fire calls this year. In comparison, the tally didn’t reach 90 until November last year.

FESTIVAL—Council approved the expense of $1,870 to buy 34 concrete barriers to form a track for the mud drags at the back of Wakefield Park. The price includes delivery and set-up. Admission to the event is $8 for everyone over 10 years of age.

Mayor Bill Foster said a softball tournament will be played during the festival with at least 20 teams involved.

PLANNERS—Art Erbskorn was appointed to fill a vacancy on the planning commission.

CELL PHONES—A change in the City’s cell phone policy would allow employees and former employees to obtain Verizon service at a 15 percent discount through the City’s plan. Their contract would be made directly with Verizon and the City would have no responsibility for costs incurred.

Some department heads have contracts through the City and receive a 25 percent discount.

SHELTER HOUSE—Audience member Sue Wilson said that she paid a fee to reserve a park shelter house for a reunion, but the guests discovered a sticky substance on the picnic tables and then couldn’t get water from the nearby spigot.

Wilson said she doesn’t expect city workers to be able to keep the tables clean every day, but she doesn’t think a rental fee should be charged if the shelter is not going to be cleaned.