City workers 'pick up' overtime
JANESVILLE Janesville City Council President Bill Truman was surprised to hear city workers would again be paid overtime at an average of $39 an hour to work at this year's large-item pickup.
Truman said he thought the council last October had deleted $6,000 for this year's pickup after he protested about the cost last year. Another council member, George Brunner, also remembered a vote had been taken and the money deleted from the budget.
And, the Gazette article written after the meeting noted the money would be removed.
This year's pickup was Saturday, and Truman learned a month or so ago that the money still would be paid to city workers. He met with city officials to ask why.
City Manager Eric Levitt was not in Janesville during last year's budget discussions.
"All we could find was a note that he'd brought it up," Levitt said Monday. "We didn't find that there'd actually been any action on it."
City officials told Truman then that they wouldn't proceed with Saturday's pickup without his blessings.
Truman said Monday he gave the OK because he wanted the event to continue for this fifth and last year and because it is so well liked by Fourth Ward residents. Truman is a founder of the event.
Truman didn't work at this year's pickup because he had family business.
There is no pickup scheduled next year because fewer and fewer items have been picked up over the years.
If it is reinstituted in 2011 on a biannual basis, Truman said he'd like the event to return to its beginnings.
The first two years, volunteers worked with private businesses that charged a reduced rate to help with hauling, Truman recalled.
But organizers didn't line up the businesses in time the third year, and the pickup did not go as smoothly. The fourth year, the city offered city workers.
Truman said at that time many thought the 22 or so workers were volunteers. But some of the city workers told volunteers they were getting paid time-and-a-half.
"How would you feel if you were a volunteer?" Truman asked.
Two business owners have recently contacted him, he said.
"All of the sudden, they're not involved in it and we are paying city workers time-and-a half," he said.
Truman said the program has been a success because it cleaned up the inner city and united business owners and neighbors, he said.
He'd like to see a large-item pickup in the future be citywide. He said that makes sense, especially because the city last year budgeted for the event from the general fund rather than federal block grant money.
Some communities schedule pickups once or twice a year, and residents from other neighborhoods have asked Truman why they can't benefit. Workers could pick up items on regular trash day, he said.