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Bonuses remain hot topic at Georgetown

December 05, 2012
What started out as an attempt to provide a good turn to the employees of the Town of Georgetown has turned into a fiasco that not many people imagined.

Pitting board members against each other and the community against board members, the question of whether town employees will receive a one-time bonus based on their years of service is still up in the air.

The issue of bonuses came up when the town received a windfall of $8,700 when it found that an insurance company the town had previously worked with had invested premium overpayments into stocks in the town's name. Officials were unaware of the purchase until they received a dividends check and further researched matters.

Council member Patti Denison requested that the lump sum be utilized for a one-time longevity bonus as a gift to employees during the Christmas season, and Kathy Haller made a motion to do so.

However, after some thought, Haller, at a subsequent meeting, chose to rescind her motion.

The back-and-forth decision has caused some community members to become flustered. According to the minutes of the board's special session on Nov. 26, Don Farnsley accused town employees who attended the public meeting of "trying to intimidate and influence the board" and called it "the lowest form of coercion."

Denison, however, defended the employees, saying that they have a vested interest in the proceedings.

Ordinance G-12-20 concerning the longevity bonus for employees was presented to the board in three versions. Members chose to hear the "B" version.

Version B identified funds coming from the General Fund and Wastewater Operations Fund, with both deputy clerk-treasurers receiving their bonuses of $800 each this month. The ordinance failed with a vote of 3-1-1 with Kathy Haller voting no and Mike Mills abstaining as he has during the entire process due to a conflict of interest, with his wife, Pauline, being employed with the town.

In order for the ordinance to have gone into effect after the first reading, four affirmative votes were needed.

The ordinance is to be read again during the board's regular meeting on Monday, Dec. 17. In order to be adopted during the second reading, only three affirmative votes will be needed.

In other business:

•Ordinance G-12-21, providing for the wages of employees, passed with a motion from Denison that was seconded by Haller and approved by all. The ordinance ensures a 3-percent raise to town employees. The last raise for employees was in 2009.

•Jim Reynolds addressed the New Albany sewer manhole repair invoice and asked Mike Summer, the town's attorney, to submit a letter to the New Albany sewer board to terminate the sewer agreement. Denison made a motion to table the discussion until the next meeting. Seconded by Jerry Brock, it was unanimously approved.

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