Versailles talks about changing policies: mutual aid and non-emergent escorts


By Meladi Brewer

VERSAILLES — Versailles Village Council discussed the changing of various policies.

During the personnel and policy meeting Village Administrator Kyle Francis and the council had a discussion about mutual aid pay. The Village had sent mutual aid up to the City of Celina the week prior to help repair damage that had been done during the storms.

“We helped them get their electric system be rebuilt after they experienced an EF-1 tornado,” Francis said.

The mutual aid workers worked all day Friday and Saturday, and on that Saturday afternoon Francis was asked if the workers were to receive double pay for mutual aid/overtime.

“I said lets hand tight, and I will get into policy, so we have mutual aid agreements with AMP. We also have mutual aid agreements with The American Public Power Association,” Francis said. “With AMP, if somebody called in Michigan or Ohio, we are willing to go, as we all have agreements on pay and what the maximums are.”

Francis also advised a lot of the Village’s fellow AMP members: Piqua, Tipp City, Wapak, they pay double rate for mutual aid pay, and the reason they do that is in an AMP mutual aid agreement, you take your labor rate times two,” Francis said.

He said they are getting everything back from the community that is requesting their assistance. They are rewarding their employees to go and work these crazy hours.

“They can work up to 16 hours a day by the safety manual, so it’s an incentive to the employee to go and help their fellow municipal member,” Francis said.

It is also a reward for the employees for giving up their time and effort away from their families, lives, etc. Francis said they had discussions on it in 2018, and they decided not to change the agreement because they were not going on a lot of mutual aids.

“Now that our staffing is up to where it is and our abilities are more capable, we want to go help,” Francis said.

The other year the Village received mutual aid from Piqua and Tipp City, and they were not able to help with mutual aid in Celina then due to the Village’s own damage. That being said, since they would be able to provide assistance this year and repay the mutual aid, Francis is looking at accommodating the extra time the workers are putting in.

“We discussed if these other guys are doing the double pay mutual aid, my recommendation to them was go ahead and allow it,” Francis said. “The reason being is if you got guys up there doing the exact same work as Piqua or Wapak and they are only getting paid straight time because it’s between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m where as the guy from Piqua is making double rate, they are going to start thinking ‘well maybe I need to go look somewhere else.’”

He said the incentive to stay would not be here if the employees could go do mutual aid with another company and make more than they would in Versailles. Francis said he is “totally in favor of it”, as the Village could recoup the money. Paying the employees double pay would not cost the Village anything because they would get the wages back.

“We are literally taking that employee putting them off payroll while they are working for that AMP community,” Francis said.

New Breman is looking at changing their policy as well because it is “demoralizing to have someone do it for less”. Francis said that when the Village received mutual aid the other year on Reed Road due to the tornado that went through, the Village was billed double for the aid they had received.

“It has happened to us, and we paid it out through our insurance no problem but it is in our AMP agreement,” Francis said.

Francis said they are not going to put the language verbatim in the personal and policy’s manual, but they are going to look at putting it in the Annual Payroll Ordinance. He got the idea from Jackson Center, as it is how they moved forward with the change as well.

“I thought that was pretty clever because if the AMP agreement changes, we have to go back and update that policy every time; where as, the ordinance is once a year,” Francis said.

The idea was approved to have legislation drafted to be considered at the next council meeting on April 10th. Francis said the Village has not billed anything yet, so they are hoping to add the mutual aid work the Village has done to the updated policy.

“We can make it retroactive, so these guys who went to help in Celina can take advantage of that, as we have not billed anything yet. We are actually still compiling everything,” Francis said.

Council Member Cory Griesdorn questioned if this was a gray area and legal, as they are putting it into place after the work had been done. Francis assured him it was allowable by the agreement, and he has to bill them double anyway.

“Whether I pay the employee or not, I would have to bill them double hourly rate pay. We would already be collecting it,” Francis said.

They are required to bill double rate either way. This policy will allow the employees to reap the benefits and get fair pay for the extra work they are giving the other communities. This would be considered overtime within the mutual aid assistance.

Fire Chief Brian Pearson will be conducting research in order to possibly update the policy for non-emergent escorts within the village. He said he had it on the radar for a while and has already been doing some research but was told to wait.

“There has been some events that hasn’t completely fit the book, and there has been events with the band and FFA that we’ve deviated from this piece of paper,” Pearson said.

He was thinking with nothing pending or emergent that the council can revisit the policy to possibly include it.

“If it is a no, we will put it in there that this does not meet the criteria, so we know for sure when parents start asking,” Pearson said.

He said he would be willing to talk to do the leg work, talk to the school, and do research on all the extra-curriculars to see what meets the criteria and what does not for non-emergent escorts through town after a big win. What are the team events that are affiliated with the school.

“I know this always brings up a lot of discussion, and we are always trying to handle this, so I thought you could throw this in there for a light meeting night, bring this to us, discuss it, and we can hammer this out one more time to try and catch it or differentiate between athletics, groups, or whatever if we choose to do so,” Pearson said.

He said the policy needs ironed out and specifics need to be made since they have deviated from it in the past, and it was wrong to make acceptations since it can cause issues. He would be willing to look into all team competed events, like FFA, Band, and robotics, see the highest levels they can compete, if they are competing against other teams for a top spot, and more. However, there is a lot of discussion from the group about where the line sits between individuals and teams who reach the top state score, but other teams can be equivalent.

Francis brought up wrestling and cross country. They compete as individuals and there is a team score. Just because the individual wins state does not mean the team made state, so where does the line get drawn because it is rare if the wrestling or track team wins state, but individuals can. They do not want to allow acceptations if those personal individuals would never be included as well. Mayor Todd Dammeyer joked saying “we’d have sirens every night in Versailles if we allowed it.” It says a lot about the community and all the hard work they put in to reach the achievements they do, but the council is caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to figuring out what would qualify for a non-emergent escort over others. As it stands now, the policy is in favor of team events instead of individuals.

“I think it defiantly needs addressed because it was said we would last time it was brought up, but it didn’t get discuss. I feel we need to give it the attention we said we would give it,” Kent Paulus said.

Paulus said he just wanted to make sure they get it on someone’s agenda to be addressed. Pearson said he did check regarding the band. He said if you are looking for terminology, the final competition is called state, and they have to receive a superior rating in order to win. He said that is the best they can do, but Pearson advised the council to have the understanding that there “could be five bands in that category, and all five could receive that rating.” Therefore, the council could not word it as the top band in that category because it would not within the realm of reasonable reach.

The council agreed to discuss it in the future Personal And Policy’s meeting. Council member Karla Dieringer brought up her own concerns even though she is not part of the committee.

“I have strong feelings about kids who aren’t part of a team that is winning state, but they work hard, they get there, and they win state,” Dieringer said.

She said it opens up a lot, but she does have very strong feelings about picking and choosing because of the classification of a team. Dieringer said to take the band for example.

“They technically didn’t beat any other teams out. They just got this, but now you do have a kid who did work hard, he got there, and he won, and its like ‘sorry, not part of the team,’” Dieringer said.

She said all she was saying was they should be very careful with how this is worded. Pearson said he is willing to get together with the superintendent and do research about all the extra curricular for this future discussion.

To contact Daily Advocate Reporter Meladi Brewer, email [email protected].

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