The organization of the Summit’s Public Works Department led to a bigger discussion about pay equity for town employees Tuesday night.
Earlier this year, the town divided the duties of the department on a 90-day trial basis, putting town superintendent Tim Baylor in charge of water operations and promoting Jessie Simmons to a foreman position overseeing street repairs.
This month marked the end of that 90-day trial and the council voted 3-1 to keep the arrangement. Council members Pauline Monley, Lester Jones and Isaac Shaw voted in favor while Councilman Joe Lewis opposed.
Monley, who last week proposed a 30% pay raise for town employees not in a supervisory position, noted the promotion equates to a 25% pay raise for Simmons over the course of this year.
That struck a chord with Lewis.
“I don’t know anybody in America who is going to get four raises in a year,” he said, noting that Simmons’ $41,600 annual salary isn’t that far off from the police chief and is much more than what police officers make.
“Your chief of police is making 45” thousand dollars, Lewis said.
Baylor took issue with the arrangement, saying the removal of some of his supervisory duties was disheartening.
“I’m going to be honest with you, I feel like it’s a slap in my face because I have dedicated 20 years to the Town of Summit,” he said. “I’m just going to put it out there. You are wrong. .. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. It just upsets me.”
After Baylor spoke, Monley turned to Simmons and said, “Speak on your behalf, sir.”
“I’m on the job 24-7. I get calls late at night,” Simmons said.
He said there are dangers in the job, including working around gas and power lines. He said the department needed structure and wasn’t getting it.
“That’s what we haven’t had,” he said.
Simmons said he has proven his dedication to the job.
“I haven’t had a day off in six months,” he said, noting that he tends to water service calls, which he said is not part of his duties as street foreman. “The citizens need help getting stuff done and every time you turn around, I’m the one who gets called.”
Simmons said that while his pay has gone up four times this year, not all were raises, noting the first time that happened was the result of a promotion, and Lewis asked him to explain the difference between the two.
“Nobody is going to take a promotion and there’s no raise,” Lewis said.
Shaw said the town should continue to compensate Simmons if officials expect him to do the foreman’s job.
“If a man does his job right, you’re suppose to pay the man,” he said.
In other business, the council:
• Accepted the resignation of zoning administrator Wayne Parker, effective Aug. 26. Robinson noted that Parker turns 82 on Aug. 27. No replacement has been found yet, the mayor said.
• Agreed to abandon a portion of Cherry Street from Robb to Meadville streets after it was discovered two homes were built on a piece of an undeveloped town street. The board also issued quit claim deeds for the property to various residents living in the vicinity.
• Paid $62,272 to T.L. Wallace Construction Co. to install a generator at the wastewater treatment plant as part of a grant-funded project.
• Approved amendments to the 2019-20 budget.
• Appointed Michael Stewart and Riki Childress of Mitchell Technical Services, the contractor that operates the wastewater treatment plant, as authorized representatives for the town in filing inspecton reports.
• Agreed to start making payments on a loan for a sewer line rehabilitation project. The town borrowed $250,000 from First Bank as part of a match for a grant funded sewer line rehab project. Of that, it spent $171,500. Robinson the town must repay that at $1,750 per month at 3.99% interest over 10 years.
• Agreed to borrow $48,000 from First Bank to pay for a match on a National Resource Conservation Service grant to rework a drainage ditch running from Robb Street to Enterprise Road.
• After meeting 30 minutes in executive session, voted 3-0 to keep police officer Chris Bell on part-time status. Monley, Lewis and Shaw voted in favor, while Jones abstained.