Council sets new wages for street temp helpers

SALEM- City council approved an ordinance Tuesday setting new hourly rates for part-time workers in the street department, in anticipation of the hiring of temporary workers when a need arises.

Streets Superintendent Jim Phillis, Mayor John Berlin and Auditor Betty Brothers addressed the Finance Committee of city council last week about the idea to hire part-time workers to help out from time to time in the streets department.

The wage ordinance previously set the rate at minimum wage, but they thought the wage should be a little higher, with a higher rate for workers with a commercial driver’s license which is necessary to operate some of the trucks and equipment.

The ordinance set the new rates at $12 per hour for part-time without a CDL and $15 per hour for part-time with a CDL. Brothers told committee members the streets budget can afford the cost of some part-timers, but Phillis will have to keep a close eye on the costs. In a review of his budget for this year, they figured he could spend up to $17,000 for part-timers. Most of the money in his budget comes from the state through vehicle registration fees, the license tax and the gas tax.

In other action, council held a second reading on an ordinance to change plot diagram requirements for construction projects after approving amendments suggested to the Rules & Ordinances Committee by the city Planning Commission. The amendments dealt with the type of structures to be covered by the requirement for a plot diagram prepared by a surveyor, engineer or architect.

The original proposal, which had a first reading before council in December, specified projects with a value exceeding $10,000 for permanent, non-moveable structures greater than 120 square feet. The previous dollar figure was $5,000 and didn’t specify permanent, non-moveable structures or the size of the structures.

The Planning Commission suggested changing the ordinance to define “any structural construction addition to a permanent, non-moveable, existing structure, regardless of final completed value” as one of three project areas covered by the professionally-prepared plot diagram requirement.

The other two project areas were defined as: permanent, non-moveable detached structures which completion value exceeds $5,000; and non-permanent, moveable detached structures which completion value exceeds $10,000.

Council also held second reading on a resolution to give city Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst permission to sell the city’s surplus asphalt grindings collected during various street repair and resurfacing projects. No less than 50 percent of the sale proceeds will go into the capital improvement fund, with the rest going to streets.

Both the plot diagram changes and the resolution for the sale of asphalt grindings will require third readings for approval.

In other business, Councilman Clyde Brown reminded his fellow council members and the administration that he sent an email asking that they reconsider selling the fire department’s 23-year-old 75-foot ladder truck, saying it may be needed down the road. The department already received delivery of its new 102-foot platform ladder truck last week, with the firemen receiving training on all the controls. The old truck will remain in service until the training is complete, but has been placed on a website for auction.

All of the council members, including Brown, voted previously to place the old truck up for auction.

Councilwoman Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey announced the Rules & Ordinances Committee will meet at 6:30 p.m. next Tuesday in council chambers regarding more changes to Chapter 1147 of the city ordinances dealing with Planning & Zoning permits and fees, and ordinances dealing with indoor shooting ranges and the shale issue.