When the Fayetteville Board of Mayor and Aldermen meets this week, they are expected to take steps to correct overtime pay issues related to its firemen, issues that were brought to the board’s attention just ahead of their work session last week.
“For several years, the city has been in violation of FSLA [Fair Labor Standards Act] in the way that they pay overtime,” said Fire Chief Coby Moon Thursday morning, noting that while firemen and the department’s past two chiefs had likely been aware of the discrepancy, the matter had not been brought to the attention of city officials or city administrators over the years. “No one up here has known about it.”
Firefighters should be paid time and a half for any time worked over 212 hours each a 28-day cycle, Moon explained, adding that they’ve actually been paid straight time or, possibly, less.
“If we’ve got a problem, it needs to be fixed,” said Alderman Danny Bryant, as Moon noted that the police department also operates under a 28-day cycle and could also be impacted. “If that’s the case, we need to fix all of it,” the alderman added.
Administration is undertaking a review of the police department to determine if in fact it, too, is in violation. Meanwhile, when the City Board meets Tuesday of this week, it is expected to amend policies to include the proper rate for overtime pay and to incorporate a Kelly Day, a scheduled day off firefighters would get to control overtime going forward, per Moon’s proposal.
The changes would be retroactive to July 21, when the most recent 28-day cycle began, according to the request, but more than likely, city officials will consider going back two years and compensating firemen properly for overtime worked during that timeframe. That, at least, is the recommendation of a Tennessee Municipal League consultant, a recommendation that is being reviewed by the city attorney.
“I want to first say thank you as being the new chief coming in and looking at policy,” said Vice Mayor Gwen Shelton. “You were not afraid to come in and acknowledge that there had been some fault there ... I think we’ve got to fix it.”
After the city addresses the situation with firefighters this week, they will then determine whether the situation impacts police officers and if there’s any impact related to former employees.
Phase III TAP grant denied for now
City officials received word on Wednesday that their Phase III state Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant application has been denied, at least for now. The grant had been sought to fund the third phase in the city’s Greenway Master Plan, a walkway around the perimeter of Camp Blount State Historical Site, which is being developed just south of the Elk River in Fayetteville.
TAP grant applications already approved by the state include Phase I and Phase II of the plan – Phase I includes a walkway connecting downtown Fayetteville with Stone Bridge Park, and Phase II includes a pedestrian bridge across the Elk River, connecting the first phase with Camp Blount.
There were no deficiencies that impeded the state’s willingness to fund the project, according to the notification, which went on to cite city’s past successes in gaining TAP grants, the fierce competition for funding in the most recent cycle and a strong recommendation that the city reapply.
In related discussion, officials noted that efforts continue in regard to securing an easement from Sequatchie Concrete Service which owns property on South Main – the easement is an essential element for Phase I of the project to proceed.
School traffic concerns
Dick Farrar addressed the City Board during its work session about safety concerns related to traffic at Ralph Askins Elementary School in the mornings and afternoons as children are delivered and picked up from the school.
Noting that he had observed a child breaking away from a parent amid heavy traffic on 2nd Avenue one afternoon, Farrar urged the board to consider adding crosswalks and stop bars along the street, particularly at its intersections with Shady Lane and Bagley Drive.
An extensive discussion followed as officials talked about other measures that had been taken to increase safety in the area, including having police officers present to slow traffic.
Ultimately, board members asked that the system’s director of schools, the city administrator, police department, and public works work together to determine what measures could be taken to enhance safety along the streets impacted by traffic at the school.