Manual changes reviewed

Published 9:54 pm Thursday, August 23, 2012

Washington’s City Council, during its meeting Monday, is expected to review proposed changes to a draft revision of the city’s personnel manual.
The council received the draft revision at its June 25 meeting where it brought up some areas to be further discussed in detail. The 74-page draft revision was presented to city employees, who raised concerns and questions.
In a memorandum to the mayor and council, City Manager Josh Kay and Susan Hodges, human-resources director, noted areas that need more discussion. Those areas include, but are not limited to performance pay, overtime-pay provisions, longevity pay, probationary period, outside employment, use of city-owned vehicles and vacation leave.
The memorandum notes that in regard to performance pay, employees raised concerns about the possibility of not being able to receive job-maturity and merit increases in the same year. As for overtime pay, the memorandum notes some employees and supervisors are worried that eliminating counting holidays as work time for the purpose of determining overtime pay would diminish workplace morale and performance. The memorandum recommends eliminating the requirement that all employees take at least 40 hours of accrued vacation leave each year.
The agenda for the council’s Monday meeting indicates council member William Pitt wants the council to discuss the possibility of having some City Council meetings at sites other than City Hall. Pitt would limit such meetings to when the council meets at the “committee of the whole.” Those meetings, usually where no council action is taken, are conducted on the fourth Monday of each month.
“In a quick nutshell, we serve the entire city, but people are a little bit intimidated by us as far as coming to us. I would just like to see the council meeting go on the road, so to speak, like the (Beaufort County) commissioners do,” Pitt said Thursday. “It would give a chance to get out to meet more of the public. It would give the elected officials faces for that public.”
On rare occasions, the council has met at places such as the Washington Civic Center, usually when larger-than-usual audiences were expected to attend such meetings.
“The public doesn’t come to our meetings. … It’s not interesting to them, but it’s not supposed to be interesting. It’s supposed to be dry, it’s supposed to be informative. Every citizen should have an involvement in it, but they won’t come to us,” Pitt said.
Having council meetings are different places in the city would make city government more open, Pitt said. The council member also said council meetings should not take place in places of worship which would violate the “separation of church and state.”
Pitt also believes the mayor, council members and city officials who attend “off-site” council meetings should wear “khakis and polo (shirts) sporting the new city logo” instead of coats and ties in an effort to appear less intimidating to the public.
The agenda also shows Pitt wants the council to discuss the use of motorized wheelchairs on public streets.
The Washington City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building, 102 E. Second St. To view the council’s agenda for a specific meeting, visit the city’s website at, click “Government” then “City Council” heading, then click “Meeting Agendas” on the menu to the right. Then click on the date for the appropriate agenda.

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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