Turmoil returns to Malvern council meeting

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By Nancy Schaar

FPS Correspondent –

 

MALVERN – The Nov. 7 meeting of Malvern Council included the resignation of the longtime tax administrator, an ordinance to hire a new village administrator and a lengthy discussion on a letter the village fiscal officer received from the current village administrator.

Alana M. Evans submitted her resignation, effective later this month, first reading of an ordinance was read to hire Marcus R. Benson as village administrator and Fiscal Officer Pat Griffith told council she “feels threatened” by a letter she received from Village Administrator Rick Giroux.

Griffith read portions of the letter to council during the session. The letter was dated Nov. 2, 2016.

Griffith disputed Giroux’s claims in the letter that she withheld his due pay, docked other employees for their time submitted for pay and other items.

In the letter, Giroux stated he was working with Mayor Angela Lambert on a special project when Lambert handed him his paycheck for the previous pay period.  Giroux claimed he worked 24 hours but said he was only paid for 18.25 hours.

“You shorted me 5.75 hours of pay,” declared Giroux.

Griffith said those 5.75 hours were claimed for a Sunday and would appear on the next pay period. It could not be included in the previous pay period because it fell onto the following pay period.

Giroux also stated his hours of work are not subject to Section 6.2 of the employee handbook.

“I don’t have set working hours due to my schedule. Therefore, I cannot be late or early to be subject to the 15 minute increment deductions.  You do not have the authority to dock employee pay. You cannot dock employee pay unilaterally since you are not a supervisor of employees,” continued Giroux.

“Section 6.2 applies to all employees.  He is an employee.  I don’t know why he thinks it doesn’t apply to him.  It does,” stated Griffith.

Griffith said all employees are required to work 480 minutes to be paid for eight hours.  Employees are paid in increments of 15 minutes.  Griffith said she asked the state auditor’s office representative Gary Alger regarding the issue.  Alger told her she is doing payroll according to law.

Giroux referenced a water department employee, whose situation was discussed at several recent meetings because the employee scheduled herself to work week after week every day, including Saturday and Sunday and demanded overtime and double time pay.

Griffith said she checked with the auditor’s office and was told that if the employee was scheduling herself to work when other time could be compensated throughout the week, then the employee is not due double time pay.  Council members agreed at the last meeting.

Giroux states Griffith is to review his time card again that clearly shows 24 hours and issue a new check reflecting time worked and compensation earned. “I want this done no later than the end of this week,” stated Giroux in the letter.

Giroux also ordered Griffith to compensate the water department employee for her time worked and all employee time cards for fiscal year 2016 be reviewed to determine if time was docked, how much, which paychecks were shorted and why.

“I strongly urge you to correct this problem immediately.  Failure to do so will be unacceptable,” Giroux wrote.

“I take that as a threat!  I am uncomfortable with Mr. Giroux.  And now the mayor has refused to sign my paycheck,” said Griffith emphatically.

“I am not comfortable signing his paycheck. Richard is not a lawyer. He writes an ordinance and it is passed by this council and they will be in trouble for it. He is not doing his job. The mayor is doing part of it. On June 28, he told council he could no longer do the job of village administrator and yet he keeps turning in time cards. There is a lot of nonsense going on here and we are not helping the village at all. We are going to see we have not made any progress with the auditor,” said Griffith.

Griffith refused to sign Giroux’s paycheck and the mayor refused to sign Griffith’s pay check in return. Council president Bob DeLong was called in to sign both paychecks, as he is authorized to do.

Lambert said since Griffith had her say, she had a list of things Griffith had not done.

Lambert said Griffith put the village in jeopardy when she canceled credit cards when Jim Bates was village administrator and head of the water department.

Griffith said she asked council members about numerous purchases made on the credit cards council members and the mayor knew anything about and was advised by the state auditor’s office to cancel them, which she did.

Also on Lambert’s list of alleged infractions was Griffith’s refusal to give out paychecks on two occasions, being tardy for work for the last three months, not providing reports when requested, reserving money in the paving account as requested, not providing purchase order numbers or issuing blanket purchase orders and not providing meeting minutes within the same week of the meetings.

Griffith disputed the issues.

Following the lengthy discussion, Councilman Tom Holmes said he was “very mad,” adding no one should ever question that he does not have the best interest of the town at heart.

“All of us need to get on track. There is too much bickering and it is making us look stupid. It makes it look like we are idiots. I am not an idiot,” said Councilwoman Eunice Thompson.

Lambert requested the first reading of an ordinance that would hire Marcus R. Benson of Alliance as the new village administrator.

The ordinance states Benson will work a maximum of 30 hours per week and any hours over the 30 hour limit must be pre-approved by the mayor.  He will be required to clock in and out between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

He will receive PERS and Workers’ Compensation benefits and normal paid time off as listed in the employee handbook.

Benson currently works for the Ohio Department of Transportation and has since November of 2015.  Prior to that he spent three years as the Alliance Water Distribution superintendent and has an Ohio EPA Class 2 Water Distribution Certification.

He has also worked as Alliance Water Distribution/Central Garage foreman and a utility serviceman.

When asked when Benson would begin his duties in Malvern, Lambert said no date had been set.

Council set a special meeting Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. to hear second reading of the ordinance.

Even though Lambert said Giroux is employed by the village, he submitted a letter of resignation to the mayor Aug.16 that states he will tender his resignation at the time a new village administrator is hired.

Long time village tax administrator Alana M. Evans presented council with her resignation from that position effective Nov. 23.

“I feel I no longer can do my job with the work environment that we have now.  This environment produces stress that interferes with allowing me to do the Tax Administrator duties to the best of my abilities.  I am choosing to move forward and concentrate on my own private business,” stated Evans.

She also expressed her appreciation for the support she received during previous years of her employment with the village.

The mayor or council members made no comment following the reading of Evans’ statement.

Evans had previously attended all meetings and provided monthly updates regarding amounts collected, accounts involved with court collections, and accounts set up on payment plans.

A few months ago, Lambert informed Evans she no longer needed to attend meetings or provide reports at the meetings.  Evans, as with as other employees of the village, was paid for time spent attending meetings.

 

 

 

In other business council:

– WILL advertise for an additional two weeks for the position of village solicitor. No responses were received from the first two weeks of advertising.

– HEARD the mayor state she has determined village employees will receive Thursday and Friday off with pay for Thanksgiving.  For Christmas they will receive one half day off with pay for the Friday before Christmas. They will also have Monday off to count for their Christmas eve day, and Tuesday off for their Christmas Day paid holiday.

– APPROVED up to $10,000 for the installation of two new furnaces at the water plant. Funds will be taken from the water department for the charges.

– AUTHORIZED $50 gift cards for all full and part time employees for both Christmas and Thanksgiving.

– SCHEDULED a finance meeting Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. in village hall.

– AGREED to the partial closing of Reed Ave. Dec. 11 from 1 to 4 p.m. for a Community Tree event.  Local choirs will entertain, and refreshments will be served. The Historical Society will also be open that afternoon.

– REMINDED residents leaf pickup continues through November. Leaves must be placed at the curb sight, but not in the street.  Limbs and sticks will not be picked up and remain on the property.

– LEARNED water and sewer mapping has been made available digitally for the village service department.

– URGED residents to make sure heat tapes are working properly at their residences.