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Township time check


More supervision set for human resources director



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February 09, 2011 - As human resources director, part of Carol Gabris' job is to supervise township employees.

She needs some supervision herself, according to Trustee Mark Petterson.

"Some situations have arisen in the past few weeks that demanded employees talk to her and that ability was not available," said Petterson.

He received complaints from Independence Township employees that Gabris is not putting in a 40-hour work week, even though her time sheet says so. Petterson brought this issue before the board before she was hired full-time this past June, $64,150 salary with full benefits as a department head.

"I tried to point out in my view what was a very large discrepancy in the hours that were being performed for the large amount of money being paid," he said. "The board refused to listen to them. They figured the hours being worked didn't need any oversight."

To help solve the issue, Petterson suggested at the Feb. 1 meeting Gabris be required to post office hours so board members and employees know when she is available.

Trustee Neil Wallace said having Gabris post office hours is a "terrific idea," but he also argued "just because she's not physically present in that one room we've assigned to her, does not mean she's not on the job."

Supervisor Dave Wagner said if a person doesn't come in until between 10 a.m. and noon everyday it becomes "rough on the employees."

"All the directors know when our opening and closing hours are and their responsibility is to get their job done during the day," Wagner said. "If they're not going to be here at 8 o'clock they know to call their staff and let them know where they're at and what they're doing."

Wallace said there is a similar perception about Wagner not being in the office or available to staff or the general public

"I understand you're an elected official and you don't have to report to anyone, but there is still the notion of being a model for the other directors," he said.

However, Wagner said he lets people know where he is going when he leaves the building.

"I don't make an announcement over the PA system that I'm now leaving," Wagner said. "But when I walk out the door, people know where I'm going."

Carson said there are two issues: hours they expect an employee to work for the pay they receive and availability to the rest of the staff.

"If the general expectation is department heads work 8-5 or 40 hours a week, I think it needs to be clear to everyone that department heads are working 40 hours a week," Carson said. "The fact they're working at different places is not really the issue here."

Carson said the issue came up because former Clerk Shelagh VanderVeen signed Gabris's time sheet every week. Once she resigned, there was no one to sign the sheet.

"When it was brought to the supervisor, he wasn't willing to sign it because he didn't believe it was accurate. The deputy clerk wouldn't sign it and it came to me and I don't have anything to do with personnel, so I wasn't going to sign it," Carson said. "I think the board should probably make some decision as to who is going to sign this time sheet. I believe it should be the supervisor."

Trustee Larry Rosso said Gabris, who was not at the meeting, "better take heed and do what she thinks is necessary to meet the expectations of this board in general because she answers to the board."

"I know there are other things that job requires," Rosso said. "There is a lot of time spent in negotiations, different conferences, so I don't want to lock her into 40 hours per se, when there is a variety of functions that are performed in that position."

Petterson disagreed.

"Being at union negotiations is one thing, but we know she's not negotiating a union every day of the week, so if she is not negotiating a union then there is no reason for her not to be in her office," he said. "She's not like the building director or one of the other departments like the assessor where you're going to go assess houses or go make sure construction is being done properly."

The board voted 4-1 to notify the HR director of work expectations, her time sheet signed by the supervisor, and post her hours available to staff each week.

Wallace voted "no." Trustee David Lohmeier was absent from the meeting.

"I do spot check time sheets all the time," Wagner said. "I will verify the fact the person did work it."

Gabris is out on sick leave and could not be reached for comment.

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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