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Trustees restore highway positions

Andy Ouriel • Dec 8, 2013 at 3:20 PM

Trustees recently voted 3-0 on recalling some highway positions previously eliminated via layoffs.

The department has gone through an extreme fluctuation of staffing, when considering:

• In 2011, six full-time workers and two supervisors — a superintendent and foreman — worked in the department.

• In 2013, three fulltime workers and a superintendent worked in the department.

Budget constraints in January forced trustees to slash the highway department’s labor staff in half, reducing from six full-time employees to three up until recently. Trustees maintained the superintendent’s position, who’s considered a non-union administrator.

Trustees also never replaced the foreman’s position, also administrative, after firing Kevin Boos for allegedly drinking alcohol while working.

• In 2014, trustees set aside enough funds to cover salaries for four fulltime workers in addition to a superintendent and foreman.

Thanks to a mix of retirements and departures, trustees haven’t filled all these positions yet, including the top spot. Former superintendent Eric Dodrill left his post for a position at Erie Soil and Water Conservation District.

Officials, however, remain optimistic about once again employing eight people — six fulltime employees and two administrators — in the highway department.

“I want our highway department back to full strength,” trustee Tim Coleman said.

A brighter financial picture occurred after township residents overwhelmingly supported a May policy levy, generating almost $2 million in new funds a year from 2014 through 2018.

The police levy freed up more dollars in Perkins’ general fund, an $8.5 million umbrella account covering various services such as road projects, leaf collections and snow patrols, all of which are overseen by highway workers.

Coleman’s optimistic more funds in the highway’s budget coupled with additional workers can help address neglected roads. Highway workers haven’t overseen a street upgrade on a township road since 2011.

“With the way the funds are, we are still tight,” Coleman said. “But maybe we can do more projects. We are going to have to play catch-up. If not, we are going to be further down the road with these projects”

Perkins highway staffing levels

2011: 8 — six full-time workers, two supervisors.

2013: 4 — three full-time workers, one supervisor.

2014: 6 — four full-time workers, two supervisors.

Note: 2014 figures are estimates; Source: Perkins fiscal department

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