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Hubbard residents due an explanation of overtime pay



Published: Tue, January 29, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The population of Hubbard is a little more than 8,000, but last year those taxpayers shelled out more than $200,000 in overtime pay to a number of individuals on the city's regular payroll. Mayor George Praznik doesn't see what the big issue is. Councilwoman Bonnie Viele, who chairs the council's finance committee, says she doesn't want to discuss it. And as far as city Auditor Michael Villano is concerned, "Some things are better left unsaid." When the folks who ought to be holding tight to their city's money refuse to explain why salaried employees in the water and electric department, for example, are making as much as 25 percent to 50 percent above their annual pay in overtime, residents have to wonder how their community can be so flush with funds.

This is the kind of excess that makes taxpayers see red -- besides red ink, that is -- and fosters the attitude that government should be run more like businesses.

Praznik rationalizes the water department's overtime pay because that department has only four employees although he maintains there's really enough work for five. Paying overtime is cheaper in the long run, he says, than hiring a new full-time employee.

Evidently, the mayor has never heard that successful businesses hire part-time employees or even bring in temporary workers when workflow demands it.

Better scheduling: Apparently, some of the overtime pay is also a result of regular workers working on weekends as well as their regular work week. Why not work the weekend hours into the regular schedule?

But then again, Praznik denies that he has any responsibility for the budgets his own department heads submit. Last time we checked, the job of an administrator -- and that is the mayor's role -- includes overseeing budgets and helping department heads learn to properly manage their resources.

Of course, if you perceive your position as more political than administrative, you probably won't understand that keeping quiet when your friends are among those raking in the extra dough might be causing alarms to go off.

Political allies: City hall janitor Ed Pompili Sr., brother of city Councilwoman Lisha Pompili-Baumiller, D-3rd, was paid $7,903 on top of his $22,616 regular pay. And Pompili's son, who works in the electrical department, picked up $5,468 in overtime in addition to his $29,462 regular pay. Praznik acknowledges that members of the Pompili family are his political allies. And that shouldn't cause concern?

We are troubled that Councilwoman Viele, D-1st, has declined to bring these financial issues to light. If there's nothing to hide, why not discuss the matter openly? As finance committee chairwoman, why not initiate a study of overtime costs and recommend ways to diminish if not eliminate them?

When Councilman Richard Keenan, D-4th, asked where the administration has been on this issue, Praznik accused him of "showboating." Better a showboat than a leaky one.




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