Hope City Board discusses changes to employee manual, per diem increases for some firefighters, catastrophic leave policy, housing 100 dogs

Police Chief and Assistant City Manager JR Wilson speaks before the Hope City Board of Directors Tuesday night about changes to the Hope Employee Manual.

The Hope City Board of Directors held its second regular meeting of September in City Hall Tuesday night, which can be seen in its entirety below. Because of Vice-mayor Kiffinea Talley’s doing so in the absence of Mayor Don Still, it was the first time a woman had presided over a City Board meeting. The discussion topics included:

  • A request from Fire Chief Todd Martin to increase the rate of pay for volunteer and off-duty fire fighters called into action for over three hours from $25 to $75 per day. The request was approved by the board unanimously by voice vote.
  • Consideration of revisions to the Hope Employee Handbook, which was last revised July 29. The changes consisted of 1) a change in the definitions section to define “in-law” on its own and remove a parenthetical in the definition of Immediate Family Member that describes in-law. 2) amend a section on meal per diem rates to conform to Federal Government Services Administration guidelines so that travelling employees can have meals covered by the city based on set prices per region. 3) delete a section requiring the City Manager to pay employees by check, in person once a year. 4) the addition of Juneteenth to Paid Holidays. 5) change a section called Sick Leave Benefits to let police accumulate up to 1,040 hours of sick leave rather than the previous 720. 6) Change the section Catastrophic Leave to allow employees to start participating with a four-hour contribution. Catastrophic Leave is a program in which employees can donate leave time to a pool, which an employee who must take leave due to extended illness, injury or caretaking of a relative can use. 7) changes for good grammar’s sake. Change 5 would require a separate ordinance. No vote was taken on these changes, though a plan emerged for approving them by January.
  • A man who has come to the Parks Department to request the use of a facility there to house 100 hunting dogs in the last weekend of October prompted discussion that was not on the agenda. The Board asked that Parks Superintendent Summer Powell explain to the man that he needed to show proof of vaccination and that the charge for the use would be $100 a day to account for the clean-up labor necessary on the part of parks workers afterward.
  • In City Manager Report, Catherine Cook said she would need the Board members to send preferred dates for an October tour of City Hall. The interim policy wherein Housing Authority tenants can pick up their trash bags has resulted in about 50-60 picking them up. Cook also read the last two emails from Housing Authority Executive Director Zach Hicks, the latter of which invited the Board to come to a future Housing Authority Board of Commissioners meeting. Vice-mayor Kiffinea Talley requested that Cook place an item on the first October Hope Board of Directors agenda to have the board consider changing its policy regarding rubbish pick up.

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