Phillipston classification plan nearing completion
PHILLIPSTON — After nearly several months in the making with departmental interviews, documentation of responsibilities, requirements, and recommended experience, the town is less than a month away from attaining a professional Class & Compensation plan. The plan will allow the town to move forward with a list of criteria for all positions and salaries.
Don Jacobs of Jacobs Consulting said two of three objectives laid out at the previous meeting are complete: the ‘Draft Job Descriptions’ based on input from employees and department heads, and based on those draft job descriptions, an initial ‘Job Classification Plan’ has been developed.
He said, “The tool we use is a position ratings system that consists of a set of evaluation criteria. Under the system, every job description will now be written in a standardized format. Even if it is an elected position, every job description in the town will now be written in the same way.
“The most important part of the study is a classification plan not based on any dollars and cents which is the third and final part of the study,” explained Jacobs.
Selectman John Telepciak interjected, “That has been asked of us numerous times.”
Positions under the plan will be broken up into several groups under two types:
1. Regular positions — Positions where employees are required to work 52 weeks a year no matter part or full time.
2. Temporary positions — The town may pay an employee when required to work, but they do not work on a regular schedule.
Said Jacobs, “Of those two categories, there will be one position for General Government positions, one for Fire Positions, and one for Police Positions.”
When Telepciak asked about feedback from various employees while interviewing them, Jacobs said, “Very, very positive, employees really welcomed the opportunity to explain what they do to somebody, and it was important that they understand the process.”
Of the three draft plans for government, fire, and police, the departments in that order had been determined to have “Grade Levels” of six, six, and three each respectively. Years of experience, level of education, training, occupational risk, supervisor responsibilities, etc. are all being part of the equation for each individual plan. Jacobs said, “What some key characteristics each level have are independence, responsibility, accountability, and complexity. Once again, these standards are not driven by dollars and cents, but the sum total of individual categories that define each grade level.”
A survey instrument has now been applied by Jacobs for collecting salary data. Jacobs does not use the survey sent out every year by the Massachusetts Municipal Association. “When I show you the salary data, you will know that I collected it, and where it came from, and that I can stand behind it as we enter the third part of the forming of the Class & Comp Plan. What will come to you next are salary ranges with each of the respective grade levels. Employee salaries and market data, will help develop the ranges.”
Communities in the “General Market Area” being surveyed for the plan are Barre, Hubbardston, Petersham, New Salem, Royalston, and Templeton. Jacobs was requested to add Northfield, Bernardston, and Erving as towns by Police Chief Kevin Dodge. Fire Chief Richard Stevens also requested to include Erving. Jacobs said, “If you have any other communities you would like me to survey for comparison, please request them to me.”
As part of the timeline and concerns, Jacobs advised, “You will have the findings plan by the end of the month in front of you, but it is important to allow employees time to react to it to see if employees have any questions or concerns, and then bring it back to the selectmen where you can review it and hopefully approve.”
Jacobs explained that the report will ultimately help the town not only have a set of guidelines to go by when hiring or promoting its employees, but most importantly help the town establish if the employee is being paid competitively within the market place as a town employee. Jacobs expressed that he will be in touch with the town by the end of the month, and possibly before Thanksgiving. At the latest, that would place Jacobs back by Monday, Nov. 23.
Animal Control Law Violations
Animal Control Officer Glen Whitney advised the selectmen about five dog owners in town who have not complied to license their dogs or paid their tickets issued to them. Since April of 2015, the town has collected $750 in late fees and ticket fines for animal violations.
A warrant submitted to the selectmen for review was provided by Town Clerk, Karin Foley under the new animal control bylaw. The warrant was for the proceeding, to seek out, and catch and confine the dogs within Phillipston not duly licensed or tagged according to the provisions of Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 140.
Whitney said a pattern of multiple visits to the same residences, repeated excuses, and a strong patter of refusal of compliance, leaves him no other choice but to seize the animals, and/or take the owners to court. Issues such as refusal to provide rabies shots, proper licensing, and others were detailed.
The selectmen voted to approve the forwarding of the warrant to be signed by Chair Tom Brouillet, who could not be present at the meeting, allowing Whitney to handle it in what ever legal option worked best for both himself and the town. Letters will be sent to the five owners’ residences.
Town Hall Closing
The town hall will be closed for Veterans Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11.
Office hours at the town hall for Senator Ann Gobi with District Aide Tyler Wolanin, will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 10, during the hours of 1:30-2:30 p.m.
The selectmen appointed resident Jason Carter to the position of secretary of the Conservation Commission, through June 30, 2016.
The next meeting of the selectmen will be held on Monday, Nov. 9, at 7 p.m.