In a 4-1 vote Oak Creek police allowed extra pay

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— Town police officers will get paid for working more than 40 hours a week, just not at an overtime rate. That was the decision of the Town Board after considerable discussion May 11.

In the last month, Police Chief Dan Kelliher and his officers have put in 104 hours of overtime. The extra time was accumulated when officers were getting special training out of town and their shifts needed coverage.

Kelliher asked the Town Board if the officers could be paid for the shifts at a flat rate, not time and a half, the usual overtime compensation rate. That translated into $1,298 of extra pay for the 104 hours.

Since there are less than five employees on the police force, by state law, the town isn't required to pay overtime.

"Normally, we've been working (overtime shifts) for free," Kelliher told the board. "Other agencies pay time and a half."

Trustee Mike Kien didn't agree with Kelliher's position.

"You're getting paid to do the job, you're in a salary position," he said, adding that if that means putting in more than 40 hours a week, then that's what the officers have to do, Kien said.

Kien argued that officers would be paid twice for doing one job if the town granted the overtime.

Kelliher said the budget would allow for the overtime because of money set aside to hire an extra officer, who would relieve the overtime problems. Since the search for the new officer hasn't been successful, that money should be used to compensate employees for their extra time worked, Kelliher reasoned.

Kelliher then suggested to the board that part of the reason that he can't find a fourth officer is because the town doesn't pay well and it is difficult to receive overtime pay.

He had a sympathetic ear in Trustee Sonja Norris.

"I think they should get paid for the time they worked," she said.

She put forth a motion to enable the officers to get paid for their extra shifts at their regular hourly rates and to pay for any overtime in the future the same way. In return, Kelliher will have to produce a monthly status report so the trustees know when and how the overtime is accumulated.

The motion passed 4-1 with Kien dissenting.

In other police news at the meeting on May 11:

Kelliher received a 40-cent per hour pay raise, from $15.36 to $15.76. The 2.6 percent increase is retroactive to April 1, when it was scheduled to be approved.

Kelliher had to fulfill additional training requirements before he could receive the raise.

"We voted and approved the raise back in December. He did what he said and he deserves the money," Kien said.

To reach Doug Crowl call 871-4206 or e-mail dcrowl@amigo.net

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