During the Jan. 17 county Board of Supervisors meeting, there was some conflict over a resolution to increase "Schedule S” employee vacation time. Although in all, the resolution was to pass the Salary Schedule S Handbook amendment, which included changes to employee vacation time.
In the prior handbook, employees earned vacation time based on the number of years of service. For example, an employee who has worked up to five years earned 10 vacation days; six to 10 years, 15 days; and 11 to 15 years, 20 days. That change was made effective Jan. 1, 2014. Prior to 2014, Schedule S employees accrued 24 days per year.
“Up until three years ago, that benefit was extended to all Schedule S employees. They are a part of management and in an effort to recruit quality people for the position, we extended that (vacation) benefit,” sad Wyoming County Board Chairman Doug Berwanger.
In 2014 there was a “cash crunch” and that vacation benefit in the package took a hit. However, over time, it proved to be a poor decision, Berwanger says. What had ended up happening was the employees who were part of the union were accruing more vacation time than their managers.
On Tuesday’s vote, half the members of the Board agreed the change was necessary, but half of them disagreed: Sandra King, of Pike; Brian Becker, of Sheldon; Bryan Kehl, of Attica; Ellen Grant, of Bennington; Keith Granger, of Castile; Jerry Davis, of Covington; Michael Vasile, of Genesee Falls; and Vanessa McCormick, of Java.
“At a time when the county is working under financial restraints, 24 days of vacation on the first day seems excessive,” Kehl said.
Becker, who owns William G. Becker & Sons Inc. in Java, says newly hired employees know they will earn vacation time on an anniversary date (typically after a year) – “that’s just the way it is.”
Schedule S employees don’t actually earn all 24 days when they initially start, they accrue time based on the number of hours they work in a pay period – every two weeks – not to exceed a total of 24 days in a year. However, if an employee chooses not to use any vacation time for any year, it can carry over to the next, but maxes out at 12 weeks, officials say.
“There is no financial impact and it would put everyone on the same level,” said Perry Town Supervisor Jim Brick. “People were working the same amount of hours, but not getting the same number of vacation days.”
“In your career (with the county) you can only accrue 12 weeks at any given time or be paid out upon separation,” Berwanger said. “The ‘additional’ time is perceived to be a financial hardship. But in these positions, we don’t have to hire extra help to cover the time off, therefore, no additional cost. When they come back from vacation, they have their work they need to catch up on. Also, Schedule S people have an evaluation process to go through; so if they don’t get their work done, it may impact future raises.”
Yet, with the vote so evenly split, how was the resolution actually passed? It helps to understanding the vote process.
The towns are split by a weighted vote, with the most votes for the simple majority in the towns of Warsaw (201), Perry (187), Arcade (172), Attica (164), Bennington (140), Castile (123), and Sheldon (102). The town with the least amount of votes is Genesee Falls (19). Of the those that represent the most votes, only the towns of Sheldon, Castile, Bennington, and Attica voted “no” – Warsaw, Perry and Arcade voted “yea.” Voting in the remaining towns vary between 38 to 93.
To pass, the resolution needed the simple majority to vote “yea.” In Wyoming County, the simple majority is 1,599 votes – the total number of combined votes of the 16 supervisors. The resolution passed with 800.
“There are 31 departments in the county and not everyone will retire at the same time,” Berwanger said. “The big impact is the 10-percent contribution for health insurance. In 2014, anyone hired as a Schedule S employee would be responsible to pay only 10 percent of their health insurance, this had stayed intact.”
In other actions:
• The chairman is authorized to sign the following grant acceptance awards;
– Arts Council of Wyoming County on behalf of the Historian’s Office, to fund a county-wide Eat Your Way Through History tour;
– Catholic Charities of Buffalo on behalf of the Office for the Aging, to provide funding for respite services to caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease; and
– New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services on behalf of the District Attorney’s Office, to fund victim services;
• Jake Kramell was removed as a Youth Member to the Wyoming County Youth Board;
• Chairman authorized to sign contract with the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office on behalf on the Wyoming County Jail to provide prisoner housing for Orleans County inmates; and
• Appointments/reappointments include:
– Gregory J. Collins, DO, MPH, as part-time medical director;
– Thomas Wakefield, DMV, to the Wyoming County Board of Health;
– James Brick, Daniel Leuer, and Cheryl Ketchum to the Wyoming County Water Resource Agency Board of Directors;
– David Rumsey, Department of Social Services commissioner; and Laura Paolucci, Health Department administrator, to the 2-1-1 Advisory Board;
– Edwin Smart (replacing R. Crandall), and David Johnson (replacing R. Lathan), to the Wyoming County Planning Board;
– Undersheriff David Linder, as part-time Stop-DWI coordinator;
– Janis Cook, as county auditor;
– Jerry Davis, Ellen Grant, and John Copland, as members of the Inter-county Association of Western New York, with Cheryl Ketchum and Rebecca Ryan as alternate members; and
– HIPPA Officers include David Tallman, corporate compliance officer; Joan Kibler, privacy officer; and Todd MacConnell, IT security officer.