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St. Lawrence County legislators may consider compensatory time

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CANTON — Compensatory time for St. Lawrence County department heads could be on the agenda of legislators next year.

The issue inadvertently came up at a recent meeting when Legislator Mark H. Akins, R-Lisbon, questioned whether a standard workday of seven hours for state retirement purposes for certain elected and appointed officials instead should be at least eight hours.

Mr. Akins’s intention was to record more accurately the time he thought department heads such as Sheriff Kevin M. Wells and others were on the job so that no one would think they work less than the average person.

“I don’t think seven hours is a standard workday for these guys. I thought it was a misrepresentation of what they’re actually working,” he said. “I wanted to reflect what it really was. That’s not where the conversation went.”

Other legislators hopped on Mr. Akins’s question, wondering how the seven-hour day for employees was established and how compensatory time for department heads is handled.

The standard workday of seven hours and an hour of unpaid lunch was set by resolution and labor agreements, Human Resources Director Christopher S. Boulio said.

A resolution passed in 2000 gives management employees a benefit package standard with union employees. Unionized staff members earn compensatory time if they work more than 35 hours in a week but less than 40, after which they receive overtime, Mr. Boulio said.

Management employees are exempt, so never receive overtime, but are allowed compensatory time like their subordinates.

Some legislators thought compensatory time for department heads deserved review.

Most manager jobs are salaried and do not come with set hours, said Legislator Jim A. Bunstone, D-Potsdam.

“It can be many hours to many more,” he said. “We certainly need to look at that.”

Legislators ended up passing the resolution as a paperwork requirement of the state, but Legislative Chairwoman Sallie A. Brothers, D-Norfolk, said compensatory time for department heads will be reviewed by a committee to determine whether it affects the county financially and to make recommendations.

“I think it bears investigation based on the response that was out there,” she said.

The present policy makes department heads more responsible for tracking their hours because it is clear when they have worked and when they have taken time off, Mr. Boulio said.

“As a public employer, I think we have to be accountable,” he said.

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