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City personnel policy changes expected

Washington’s City Council is slated to discuss a draft of a substantially changed personnel policy for city employees at its meeting Monday.
The draft outlines major changes to pay policies, overtime policies and the use of city-owned vehicles among other modifications.
(To view the council’s agenda for its Monday meeting, including details regarding proposed changes to the city’s personnel policy, visit the city’s website at www.washington-nc.com and click on the “Government” heading, then click on the “City Council” heading on the menu to the right, then click on “Meeting Agendas” on the menu to the right, then click on the date for the appropriate agenda.)
The draft outlines the transition to a new pay plan for city employees, but no employee’s salary will be reduced by the transition to the new pay plan.

The draft allows city employees to receive performance-based bonuses for the development and implementation of documented cost savings initiatives for the city. The objectives of these special bonuses are:
• to stimulate and reward employees for initiative and creative thinking that leads to a reduction in operating costs;
• to provide a means for recognizing individual ideas and contributions to the city government;
• to provide an opportunity to simplify work methods and operation and to improve services, safety and health; and
• to improve service and reduce government costs to the citizens of the City of Washington.
The draft allows for city-owned vehicles to be driven to employees’ homes under the following provisions:
• Nonemergency personnel — there are occasions when city employees, because of their job requirements, need to be provided city-owned vehicles in order to provide for the orderly and efficient operation of city functions. These positions will be recommended to and approved by the City Council during its annual budget approval.
• Emergency personnel — to provide emergency services outside of the normal workday, public-service and police and fire-service employees may be allowed to use a city-owned vehicle to commute to and from their residences during the time that the employee is scheduled for call-back times.
The draft specifies that at no time shall an employee living more than 20 road miles from the city limits be allowed to drive a vehicle home.
Councilman Doug Mercer, during past council meetings, has indicated he believes the policy regarding use of city-owned vehicles needs modifications. Mercer has questioned the need for some city employees to be able to drive city vehicles to their homes overnight.
The draft also includes a provision for emergency hiring of employees.
“In rare situations because of emergency conditions, avoidance of reduction-in-force, high turnover, etc., the City may hire or promote without advertising jobs, upon approval of the City Manager,” reads the draft.
The Washington City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building, 102 E. Second St.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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