With another year quickly coming to a close, the West Liberty Village Council focused much of their regular Monday night meeting on their employees, taking action on policy and procedure updates, a pay raise ordinance and the implementation of a direct deposit option. In addition, the council discussed ways to recognize the commitment of employees who’ve been with the village for 20 years or more.
Policy and procedure updates had been sent to supervisors on November 17 and councilmembers on November 21 for review, then were presented Monday for discussion.
The following policies were approved:
Mayor Jill McKelvey started with section 2.001, which would establish an automatic direct deposit program. Employees who sign up will see their paycheck hit their bank account at midnight.
Section 2.14 set up an evaluation plan for supervisors. The council felt the new policy would address some of the supervisors’ concerns.
McKelvey then presented the section on flex time. “Most supervisors had no qualms with it because they don’t use it,” she said. “Another had a lot of issues, but I convinced him to agree.”
The problem, according to McKelvey, was a dispute over how flex time is defined, with some wanting to modify their days and hours based on the work that needed to be done. When the mayor’s office would call the supervisor about why he hadn’t come in yet, he would claim he was using flex time.
“The ordinance is specific about the need to notify us and it’s been two months of battling with him about this.” McKelvey added, “He said, ‘Well, I let my employees flex,’ and I said, ‘You don’t have that right.’”
While Councilwoman Jayne Griffith reiterated the need to evaluate the use on a case by case basis, she agreed any flex time required the mayor’s approval. “We don’t want someone to work four 10-hour days to get one day off,” she said. Such a schedule can mean employees aren’t on-hand when needed.
Section 2.08 increased vacation time to 240 hours/six weeks for anyone with 20 full years of service as a West Liberty employee. “It can hurt morale to keep working without reward after a certain number of years,” stated Councilman Jim Hoffman. Fellow councilmember Patricia Kauffman agreed, adding, “I feel there should be some kind of incentive for those sticking it out that long.”
The council approved adding June 19 (Juneteenth or Freedom Day) as an 11th paid holiday. Griffith concluded, “We should celebrate the ending of slavery.”
Ordinance 2022-18, which includes a 3 percent pay increase for supervisors and a fifty-cent per hour raise for all other employees, received its first of three readings. It’s set to be adopted at the January 27, 2023 council meeting.
This Friday, December 2, a letter will be sent to employees regarding their efforts to create a gap between the end of pay periods and paydays. They hope it will address the hardships some individuals have faced previously.
Other action Monday night:
• The council heard from municipal court judge candidate Jacob Estes, who’s addressing the various county villages ahead of the May 2023 primary election. Originally from Lima, Ohio, Estes and his family have lived in West Liberty for many years. He promised to continue his pattern of cooperating with law enforcement and utilizing the probation department to its fullest.
• Stories of the Holidays from West Liberty senior residents will take place today, November 30, at Sweetie Pie’s starting at 2 p.m.
• According to Griffith, the pop-up Christmas store to raise money for the West Columbus Street Bridge project was a success, bringing in over $600 last weekend. It will be back this Friday and Saturday. The silent auction, which goes through Saturday, December 3, has also been going well.
Griffith presented the village calendars as another success. “They’re becoming very popular,” she said. “We’re sending next year’s information out to businesses now, [in case] they want to get Christmas photos.”
The positive response continues to prove Griffith’s assertion that a lot of people are excited to see the bridge reopen.
• Police Chief Shane Oelker has expressed concern over the use of the firing range, which is now annexed within village limits. He wants to be notified when it’s being used. The mayor will talk to village legal advisor Chris Moell regarding whether the ordinance needs to change.
• Council chose not to take action yet on implementing the GOGov app, which would provide residents with an option of customizable alerts regarding leaf pickups, street sweeping/closures, important dates, etc. It would also offer a subscription to council minutes and the newsletter and a place to pay utility bills.
However, some council members felt the complexity or inconvenience of having to download and use the app—especially for elderly residents and/or those with flip phones—might detract from the benefits. McKelvey suggested they table the discussion for a later date.
• In his parks and recreation report, Councilman Trent Spriggs presented plans for the village parks, which included far more from the Ricketts Park representatives than expected. They suggested activities like concerts, movies and a service to honor fallen officers, which would take place on May 15, 2023.
They’re still waiting on quotes for security cameras at the splash pad as well as Dodge and Ricketts parks.
• The January 2023 Business of the Month nominees are Country Friends, Civista Bank and Big Orange Shoe Shop.
• McKelvey announced the village of West Liberty has three new residents/families since November 7, increasing the number to 40 for the year.
• The mayor updated the council on the success of this year’s Christmas in the Village weekend events. A good-sized crowd showed up downtown to see the parade, which featured 18 floats and Santa’s first appearance of the season. The line to see Santa stretched around the block, then another 100 children showed up Saturday morning for Cookies and Cocoa.
• Christmas fun continues Saturday, December 10, with the Tour of Homes, downtown shopping and free horse-drawn carriage rides through the village from 5-8 p.m. The Tour will include eight total stops and five Airbnbs. A concert at the townhall opera house featuring the Bellefontaine High School music group Les Fons, the Church of God’s praise band and West Liberty-Salem’s show choir Sound Check will conclude the day’s activities.
The last West Liberty Village Council meeting of 2022 will be Monday, December 12, at 7 p.m.