A.F. Council authorizes bucks for boots

The American Falls City Council resumed their normal meeting schedule after a small summer break on Wednesday, Aug. 7.

The council approved several standard motions including the consent agenda and payment of the city’s monthly bills.

The appropriations ordinance authorizing the fiscal year 2014 was read for the first time, at length. The ordinance will receive two more readings, by title only, at future meetings. As part of the budget process the council held an open comment period to take comment from the public on the proposed ordinance. The open comment period was closed with no comments made by citizens.

Several department superintendents were on hand to discuss the possibility of reimbursing city employees for part of the cost of footwear.

Street and Sanitation Superintendent Dustin Whited explained the request stemmed from watching his crew work.

“I know we brought this request to the council a few years ago and there were concerns about how a reimbursement program would work. At that time the council was concerned that unlike shirts, hard hats and other uniform items footwear is very personal. Since then my crew has continued to provide their own shoes or boots, but the jobs we ask them to do take an unusually hard toll on footwear. I hope we can take another look at this,” said Whited.

Council member Kathy Robertson said it was the responsibility of each superintendent to find the funding.

“If we were to allow this type of reimbursement you have to understand there will be no new money added to your uniform budgets. If this is something you want to do for your employees it has to come from your management of the budget,” said Robertson.

Water and Waste Water Superintendent Pete Cortez explained how his department handles the issue.

“Each year I show the crew a catalogue with four or five choices in the same price range. I take their choices and sizes, then make an order and pay for it out of my department’s uniform budget. The boots average about $90 and any boots the crew needs after that they provide for themselves until the next year,” said Cortez.

Council member Kristen Jensen expressed concerns about giving a benefit to employees that may not stick with the job.

“Shoes are an incredibly personal item. What do we do if we buy a pair of shoes or offset the cost of some boots and that employee leaves shortly thereafter? Do they return the boots? Do they repay the amount given to them? And even if they did return the boots would the next employee have the same size foot or want something like that? There are a lot of concerns here,” said Jensen.

Whited suggested opening the benefit to employees only after a year probation period.

Park Superintendent Jeremy Peirsol suggested discretion be given to each department superintendent because of the wide range of factors.

“I would leave it up to the superintendents. I have many more seasonal employees that would not qualify for the year deadline. Also the wear and tear on the shoes is different when you are sitting on a lawn mower rather than pouring asphalt,” said Peirsol.

The council approved a motion to allow each department superintendent the discretion to allot up to $90 per employee for footwear costs after the employee had been with the department for one year or more.

The council entered executive session for a short time. After returning to an open meeting the council authorized two motions; the first to adopt a resolution to apply for a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan and grant that would provide $750,000 in loans and $400,000 in grants to complete the wastewater treatment plant maintenance shop, the second motion authorized Mayor Marc Beitia to sign the necessary paperwork.


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