Solid waste disposal staff awarded safety bonuses

Dec 21, 2012 By Christina George, Staff Writer

The Fremont County Solid Waste Disposal District Board unanimously approved $11,456 in safety award bonuses for district employees.

Each of the waste disposal district's 35 full-time employees will receive $250, and four temporary employees will receive $125.

District superintendent Andy Frey said bonuses go to employees who had fewer than three safety incidents written up within the last year.

"It ended up being the whole work force," Frey told the board.

Frey originally proposed the safety bonuses be $500 for full-time employees and $250 for temporary employees, amounting to $24,284. The proposed amounts would have been after taxes were deducted, which would have been covered by the district.

"The safety award is something the district has done annually," he said.

Board member Mike Morgan said he had trouble supporting the bonuses, or what he referred to as "entitlements," when the district already spent $164,000 this year in salary increases.

"I don't think we should be giving these kinds of increases," Morgan said, adding it's out of line with what others are doing locally and nationwide.

Board member Steve Baumann suggested awards be given based on the entire group's safety, adding he was concerned about the proposed dollar figure.

"I'm not entirely in favor of the method that we have in place," Baumann said. "I think this is the wrong message."

Jeff Hermansky agreed.

"I'm really uncomfortable with this $500," he said, adding he liked Baumann's suggestion that the award is given as a group.

Morgan said it is part of the employee's job to be safe.

"For us to feel obligated to pay such a payment ... I think that flies in the face," he continued.

Hermansky asked why Frey chose the qualification cutoff to be three incidents or fewer. Frey said he's open to suggestions for changing the process.

Hermansky said he wants to see a better system next year but felt employees should get $200 or $250 this year because they are expecting it.

Board member Dave Hines agreed and voiced concern about the public's perception.

"Down the road we don't really know what's going on, and if the tipping fees increase, the bonus thing isn't going to look good in public," Hines said. "We do have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers to run a tight ship."

Frey said the district pushes for safety and not approving an award would undermine that effort.

"I think it's going to be detrimental," Frey said, adding it's a small price to pay to assure three-quarters of a million dollars in equipment is run safely.

Baumann made a motion to approve $150 and $75 awards with the provision that the system shifts to a group effort before the budget process next year.

Board member Richard Klaproth said the award should be $500 or nothing.

Hermansky than asked to amend Baumann's motion to be $250 and $125 with taxes deducted before it's applied to an employee's paycheck. The motion was then unanimously approved.

Another decision made at the meeting dealt with American Family Life Assurance Company, more commonly referred to as Aflac.

Frey said the district must enroll in the business before a representative can speak with employees about what Aflac offers.

"It seems like it could be a great thing for our employees," Frey said.

The recommendation was approved unanimously.

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