2015-03-27 / Community

New storm policy same as the old

With the first day of spring having come and gone, it may seem off to be thinking about snow days, but that’s what the Kennebunk Board of Selectmen have been up to.

At its March 9 meeting, the board considered a change to the town’s personnel policy that would have let Town Manager Barry Tibbetts continue to pay city hall employees if he closes up shop early, or starts late, due to a snow event.

However, in a break from current practice, the new policy would have forced employees to reschedule lost hours, or else burn vacation and/or sick time should Tibbetts cancel an entire work day. The current policy states that employees get paid on storm days, without any make-up requirement, and that’s how a majority of the board thought it should be.

“The people in the office shouldn’t have to say, OK, maybe today will be a payday, or maybe I’ll have to take some sick time,” Selectman Richard Morin said. “If the town choses to close its buildings we shouldn’t punish or impose anything further on the employees.”

Others saw it differently.

“You are saying we should just pay them and that’s that?” asked Selectman Albert Searles, incredulously. “I’ve had maybe eight jobs in my whole life and I never got paid at any one of them when I was told to stay home because it was snowing too hard.”

Searles, like many board members, said there was no double standard in treating town office employees differently from those on the fire or police departments, or the public works crew.

“The bottom line is, when these guys signed up they knew they were going to work regardless of the conditions,” he said.

The vote against adopting the new policy offered by Tibbetts was split 4-3, with Morin, Searles, John Kotsonis and Christopher Cluff voting to stick with the status quo.

The current policy does allow town employees to be late by up to an hour because of bad weather, assuming it’s not a habit, without being docked for the lost time.

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