Charlestown board discusses town hall hours, road projects
No decision made on possible earlier closure
— Following lengthy discussions, town commissioners were unable to come to a decision on either changing town hall hours or special road projects, deciding instead to wait for more information.
Earlier this month, town administrator Wib Pumpaly suggested closing town hall at 2:30 p.m. on Friday instead of 5 p.m. by eliminating two daily 15-minute breaks that employees aren’t currently using.
Pumpaly said he found that the county’s other town halls have varying hours, and three of the town halls are not open Fridays, close at noon or close at 2:30 p.m. Port Deposit town hall is open 30 hours a week, Chesapeake City town hall is open 33 hours a week, North Easts town hall is open 40 hours a week and Cecilton, Elkton, Perryville and Rising Sun all are open 42.5 hours a week.
He noted that the town maintenance employees currently work 42.5 hours and town hall employees work 45 hours a week.
“It was pointed out that I could not use the breaks, however, I suggested, possibly we reduce the lunch hour (from an hour) to half hour and use the two and a half hours that you accumulate there to possibly reduce the hours on Friday and close the town hall at
2:30 p.m.,” Pumpaly said.
Pumpaly said not many people come into the office and there are not many phone calls after 2 p.m. on Fridays.
Commissioner Andy Thompson suggested another idea that would not reduce town hall hours, but would give employees alternating Fridays off. He proposed employees work nine-hour days and then take off every other Friday, staggering the Friday off so one employee is always in the office on Friday for eight hours.
One person would take off a Friday and then the other two employees would take off the other Friday, he said. Thompson said he would not be opposed to the idea of a lunch break reduction from an hour to a half hour, but he also doesn’t know everyone’s feeling about his suggestion.
Renee Capano, commissioner president, said she agrees with the idea, but there would have to be hour changes so that the town hall does stay open on Fridays. She said that town hall should stay open until 5 p.m. Capano suggested that one person can come in at 8 a.m. and leave at 4:30 p.m. and then the other two come in at 8:30 a.m. and leave at 5 p.m., keeping the hall open until 5 p.m.
“I don’t see us closing town hall because I have been in here Fridays,” Capano said. “People are coming in.”
Capano said one reason she doesn’t think town hall should close early is because the town website’s online bill payment capa- bility won’t be ready until December, meaning people still need to come into town hall to pay.
Commissioner Bruce Hechmer said he wouldn’t mind closing earlier if the website were up and foot traffic at town hall was slow. He said he also doesn’t mind the lunch break reduction idea.
Hechmer asked Pumpaly to take a poll about how many people come in on a Friday and give the commissioners the results next meeting.
Capano also noted that she wants to make sure no labor laws are being broken regarding employee breaks. Pumpaly said he spoke with the town attorney about the two 15-minute breaks. He said businesses have traditionally permitted those who work eight hours a day to take a break in the morning and a break in the afternoon, but this is not required.
The idea was tabled and no decisions was made on the town hall hours.
Pumpaly then turned the discussion to several special road improvement project priorities, striking up a discussion about town streets.
The first project involves extending Lousia Lane, which is 2.5 miles long, and would include grating and putting down gravel, Pumpaly said. The second project is Caroline Street, from North Ogle Street to the end of the street, which would cost $10,640, he said. Next on the project list is Caroline Street, from North Cecil Street to Bladen Street, where water tends to accumulate and pond, with a price tag of $39,000, he said.
The last project is at the stop of Frederick Street going into C Dock. Although the land is leased to the Wellwood Marina, the street is town property. He said the cost to resurface the road is $11,000. The potholes on that road are already budgeted to be fixed.
There is $60,000 in the town’s street budget with $25,000 to $30,000 already appropriated toward fixing 21 to 25 identified potholes, Pumpaly said.
Capano said it might be better to focus on the drainage issues of the special projects first.
“If we don’t fix the drainage issues, paving the streets is kind of a mute point because the drainage issues is gonna eat up the streets,” she said.
The commissioners agreed to hold off on the special projects until the spring.
In other news, the commissioners approved the purchase of a tailgate electric salt spreader to be installed on the back of the town’s dump truck for $5,640, which was budgeted for in the fiscal year 2017 budget. This will give the town a second salt spreader for the winter months.