Nothing Illegal About Comp Time, Solicitor Says; Changes in Galloway Township Statute Likely
It was not illegal for the township manager to grant the CFO and the clerk comp time, but council members feel it also wasn't the right thing to do.
Galloway Township Solicitor Michael Blee has evaluated the township code concerning comp time and overtime, and he has determined it was not illegal for Township Clerk Kimberley Hodsdon, Deputy Clerk Carol Hackney and Chief Financial Officer Marilyn Dolcy to request comp time, nor was it illegal for Township Manager Steve Bonanni to grant that time.
However, Mayor Don Purdy and Deputy Mayor Tony Coppola said they disagree with the statute and will seek to have it reviewed.
On Jan. 12, township officials stated they were set to investigate claims that Bonanni approved comp time for Hodsdon, Hackney and Dolcy.
“The wording of the code is confusing,” Purdy said, reiterating that nothing illegal took place. “But we have township employees who are scheduled to take 12 furlough days this year. This isn’t right.”
“We have had to cut some employees, police officers, fire people and then we find out this is happening,” Councilman Jim Gorman said. “I just wish he would have come to council about it.”
According to township code, Chapter 73-5, “all employees, other than department or office heads, are entitled to overtime compensation within budget limitations and as approved by the Township Manager,” and “compensatory time off for all employees, including department and/or office heads, may be given at 1 1/2 hours for each hour worked as overtime, at the discretion of the Township Manager, upon recommendation of the department head. Said compensatory time off should not exceed 35 hours for white-collar employees and 40 hours for blue-collar employees, nor be carried into another year, unless recommended by the department head and authorized by the Township Manager.”
The final part of this statute is what helped Blee make his determination that nothing illegal took place.
“The Township Clerk and CFO would be considered white-collar employees and their overtime has far exceeded the 35 hour barrier for 2011,” Blee’s Associate Daniel A. Davidow said in an email Wednesday morning. “However, under the plain language of the statute, if authorized by the Township Manager, these hours can exceed 35 hours within a year and may be carried into another year.”
Bonanni, who announced his intention to retire on Jan. 10, confirmed via email that this code may be rewritten under Chapter 73-5(E), Overtime, which states, “Council will review and make the amendments they feel are appropriate.”
“The ordinance was created in 1980,” Coppola said. “I would like to have it reworked.”
Coppola referenced the Fair Labor Standards Act, which covers most jobs. Some jobs, while covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, are exempt from the overtime rules. Anyone who makes at least $23,600 a year is exempt, and anyone who makes over $100,000 is “certainly exempt.” Dolcy’ salary is $105,000 a year, and Hodsdon’s salary is $64,429 a year.
Hodsdon put in for 39.5 hours of comp time from her date of hire through the end of last year, according to payroll records. Hackney makes $40,500 a year.
Dolcy put in for nearly 60 hours through Dec. 16, according to the records.
All three were seeking compensation for not taking lunch, or taking a shortened lunch. Hodsdon and Dolcy sought compensation for staying at work late and working council meetings.
A discussion on whether or not to change the ordinance is likely to take place at the council meeting next Tuesday, Jan. 24. It will be the first council meeting of 2012, as the one scheduled for Jan. 10 was canceled. The issues previously set for Jan. 10’s agenda will be on Tuesday’s agenda, Purdy said.