Public Works to fill position with part-timers

The city of Princeton plans to replace a recently-made vacant full-time general maintenance II (GM II) position at public works with two part-time hires through what the city is calling a reorganization effort.

The city council made the decision in a 3-2 vote following a long discussion at its April 5 council study session. The motion agreed that if the reorganization doesn’t work, the city will return to just full-time positions in the department.

Mayor Jeremy Riddle and council members Victoria Hallin and Paul Whitcomb voted yes on the motion, and council members Thom Walker and Dick Dobson voted no. Dobson declared that the move will “open a can of worms.” Asked later what he meant, Dobson said it would set a precedence and wondered where it would lead. If one of the city’s police officers leaves, would the city consider hiring part-time replacements, Dobson asked.

City Administrator Mark Karnowski, city treasurer Steve Jackson, public works director Bob Gerold and public works supervisor Keith Koehler crafted the idea, according to Karnowski. The part-time positions would be 32 hours per week and the benefits would include prorated vacation, sick days and holiday pay, but would not include health or life insurance, according to Jackson.

Karnowski said the advantage of the part-time positions is flexibility at public works, such as when someone is needed to help with weekend snowplowing. Asked if this would be a guaranteed 32 hours per week, Karnowski said he wouldn’t go along with the word, guarantee.

Treasurer Jackson, talking about the move, said the intent is that the two part-timers will get 32 hours per week. Part of the reason for the part-time positions is to save the city money through a reduction in benefits, Jackson said.

The recent full-time vacancy comes from Jason Baumunk, who was a full-time GM II worker at public works, having tendered his resignation March 27 to leave for a job in Champlin. His last day on the job in Princeton was April 10.

Karnowski told the council that hiring part-time workers is a management responsibility so the city does not have to notify the union that represents the non supervisory workers at public works.

The council noted that public works management had talked about replacing the current regular work schedule of five eight-hour days with four ten-hour work days. The idea would be that supervisory personnel, Koehler or Gerold, would cover the fifth day.

Gerold responded to the council that the four ten-hour days structure has not been implemented. With ten-hour days more work could be gotten out of the employees, Gerold said, noting that tools wouldn’t have to be taken out and put away as often.

The city is advertising the pay for the two part-time GM II positions to be in a range of $17.42-$21.77 per hour.