Herald Journal Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, April 8, 2002

City, township to vote together

By Julie Yurek

Starting with fall elections, residents of the City of Winsted and Winsted Township will be voting in the same location together.

The common poll will be located at the Winsted Fire Hall for all elections.

The Winsted City Council approved the agreement with the township at Tuesday's city council meeting.

The township approved the agreement March 25.

A precinct ballot counter can be used by both groups, which would give separate tallied votes, according to the resolution.

City employees to punch out, in now

The council authorized Administrator Brent Mareck to apply for a permit to control aquatic plants in Winsted Lake.

The city was granted the permit to use copper sulfate to control algae and plankton last year.

The council turned its attention to the street sweeper, which needs maintenance. The sweeper cleaned streets March 30, but mechanical problems prevented the machine from operating correctly, Mayor Don Guggemos said.

"The sweeper had a major overhaul in June of 1992," Guggemos said.

The council did not know the exact status or problems with the machine.

"We need to talk to the maintenance department," Guggemos said.

"We need to look at what all of our options are," council member Tom Wiemiller said.

"I had calls asking why the city was sweeping the streets on Holy Saturday," council member Bonnie Quast stated.

"Who authorized it?" Wiemiller asked.

"As far as I know, overtime was not used," Guggemos said.

It was agreed that Mareck would look into the issue.

The council also discussed the amount of salt and sand used this year compared to others.

"An average 212 yards per year was used for 1998, 1999, and 2000," Guggemos said.

"An average of 536 yards per year was used in 2001 and 2002, more than two-and-a-half times than the three previous years," Guggemos said. "The average for the five years is 340 yards, which is less than what was used in 2001 and 2002."

"The maintenance department has to look at how it is using the sand and making sure the discs on the back of the trucks are working properly," he said.

"Perhaps the council will have to tell maintenance that it can only use 300 to 350 yards per year, unless it has special permission," Guggemos said.

Mareck also explained the new time card policy to the council for its approval.

"The new layout of the time card and how it is maintained will help for payroll, audit, and budget purposes," Mareck said.

Employees will now be expected to punch out and in for lunch.

Before, employees would work eight and a half hours and be deducted a half hour for lunch, City Clerk Betty Zachmann said.

"Many companies and businesses have that policy of punching in and out," Wiemiller said.

"If an employee works over five hours, he or she is entitled to a 30-minute lunch break. If that employee works over the lunch break, it is 'donated' time," Wiemiller said.

The council agreed that if permission is granted from the supervisor or if special circumstances warrant it, an employee may work over the lunch break.

Another new policy is if an employee is leaving the city limits for any reason during the work day, the employee must leave a phone number and the duration of the absence with city clerk or utility clerk.

The council recommended employees keep a time sheet for one week, instead of two.

"It's easier for the maintenance men to keep track of if it's only for one week at a time," Guggemos said.

Mareck informed the council that the city does not have a formal overtime policy.

The council approved Mareck's recommended policy, which states that "overtime should be avoided, but when necessary, the immediate supervisor must give specific approval prior to hours being worked."

Emergency situations that would be considered include excess snowfall, flood, natural disasters, terroristic threats, bomb threats, or other similar situations where the immediate response of staff is required to avert endangerment of life, home, or property. Other special situations must be approved by the supervisor.

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