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Employee evaluation process approved in Hammond

Village employee and department head evaluations have been an ongoing topic at the Hammond board meetings.

The board made a final decision about the evaluation process at the regular board meeting on Feb. 14.

Some main questions that arose were, who should evaluate who (should every village employee evaluate each department head, even if they don't work with that person on a daily basis?), how the survey should be conducted (online or on paper) and what type of questions should be on the evaluation.

Village Clerk Kelly Brett suggested the board simplify the evaluation form. Brett said she was concerned that the questions on the form might be complicated.

"I don't know how much information you're going to get from them. It's going to be a lot of 'I don't know,'" she said.

Brett suggested simple questions like: What is the employee doing right? What can the employee work on? Are there any additional comments or concerns? Would the employee like to meet with the board to discuss their concerns.

Director of Public Works Rodney Turk told the board he didn't like the idea of having his information in the "third-party world," and would rather the evaluations be done in the traditional paper format as opposed to an online option. The board agreed to not conduct the evaluations online.

The board voted to send letters to each employee with a sealed envelope asking for feedback on their peers. The board wants employees to send back signed evaluations by April 8, whether there are suggestions, comments, complaints or praise, each employee must at least sign and return the evaluations.

The board will hold a special meeting on April 11 at 5:30 p.m. (before the regular board meeting) to meet with the three department heads. The department heads are required to meet with each of their employees prior to the evaluations at the April meeting.

To save money, the board suggested waiving the cost of the special meeting, by not paying themselves.

Union contract negotiations were discussed in closed session.

Board President Vince Trudell said the board came up with a tentative agreement with the union in the village.

"We have a 1.5 percent, 1.5 percent and 2 percent raise respective years, 2011-13," he said.

The three-year contracts would start from the first of this year, once the board approves the contracts.

The board eliminated the "Me too clause" in the union contract that would have required the village give an equal raise to union workers if other village employees received raises or that if the union received a raise, no one could get a larger raise.

"So that was the highlight for the village of what we gained," Trudell said.

Trudell also discussed a change in paid hours for the public works employees, Clerk Jean Peterson at the police office and Deputy Clerk Mary Hemenway at the village office. Trudell said public works and the police office have two-hours of rounds each weekend.

"They were asking for 15 hours extra to stick around town for the weekend. We agreed to two hours of straight pay, unless they actually do get called out, where, by law, they get paid time and a half. The clerical positions will get a 50 cent raise," he said.

The agreement is tentative and the board hopes to ratify the contract at the board meeting on March 14.

In other news:

• The board approved to budget of $2,000 for attorney fees to update the employee handbook.

• The board plans to participate in Hammond Showcase and Trustee Chris Buckel is going to work with students in art and tech ed classes to create a display. The board approved to use $350 from the celebration funds to purchase signs, materials and giveaway prizes.

• The board voted to allow the proposed village mural to be painted on the south side of the Hammond Library, but chose not to make a monetary donation at this time. Trudell said the space had to be worth something and suggested the board members come up with a fundraising effort to show support for the mural.

• The board approved changes mandated by state law that extends the time for a final plat to be submitted once a preliminary plat has been approved. The village previously had a deadline of 18 months, but state law will make the timeframe 36 months.

"Obviously this is trying to create a little more flexibility for developers, and I'm sure it's in response to the economic times," said Village Attorney Tim Scott.

The village will need to get its ordinance into compliance with the state changes.

• There are plans to have the state and village inspectors at the regular board meeting on April 11.

• Turk told the board his plans for the first phase of the Davis Street Project are to improve sewer, lighting and safety and visibility near the railroad tracks.

• Trudell announced there was a water main break on Ridgeway Street.

"Just a note to any residents, if you see any mysterious spots that don't seem to dry up at all, give public works a call. It could be a water break," Trudell said. "If you have excess water in your basement for any reason, let them know ahead of time before it becomes a huge problem."

• Kelly Brett told the board that Deputy Clerk Mary Hemenway is retiring May 2.

• The next regular board meeting is March 14 at 7 p.m.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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