Staff asked to track hours
Village board discusses time sheets
By John Faucher
The Hortonville Village Board discussed employee time sheets at length during its regular board meeting on Thursday, Nov. 17.
“This came up in pervious board discussion that there were questions of how time sheets are dealt with in the village office, specifically for our salaried employees, and how we are tracking hours,” said Village President Martens.
She informed board members that Clerk-Treasurer Lynne Mischker was asked to do some research in the matter and find how the state requires the village to report this and what the village has historically done.
Mischker said that back in May, based on discussions Chief of Police Michael Sullivan had with the Federal Wage and Hour Division, the village was under the impression that it could not have employees track hours over 40 and use them as time off.
“So in order to go with that and to have standard time sheets to go across departments, we reworked the time sheets and that started up in early May,” said Mischker.
“We did find that charting of the hours was started in 2011 and kept track of,” she added.
“In talking with the Federal Wage and Hour Division, I found that if you tell them you are a government unit and not a business that you are allowed to have you overtime except employees track their hours over the normal hours that they would work, and you can set a policy allowing them to use that as time off.”
Those in attendance did not say whether this discussion was related to Chief Sullivan being placed on administrative leave in mid-October.
Village Trustee Jeanne Bellile said she also did some research and spoke with representatives from both the federal and state labor agencies.
Bellile said she was told, “Yes, absolutely the village can definitely ask employees to track their time in, their time out, meetings, when and where they went to a meeting, and how long it lasted.”
Bellile also checked with other municipalities to see what they do.
She found the town of Greenville asks their employees to track their hours, and she made contact with the city of Oconomowoc.
“The city of Oconomowoc requires their employees to keep a time sheet. They do this for overall tracking purposes, monitoring comp time and allocating hours for projects,” said Bellile.
Most employees submit time sheets electronically through a time keeping program, which allows Oconomowoc to break down an employee’s day by tracking hours worked on a project, attendance at meetings and training.
“This also allows the city to run reports on training activities, and hours worked on projects, which they’ve found has been very beneficial,” Bellile said.
“I would definitely recommend our employees go back to this, where they track the hours which we would be able to see on those time sheets, so that we know when they are in this office, when they are not in this office or when they are at a meeting, just like they do in Oconomowoc,” Bellile said.
“I feel it is just holding people accountable and it’s doing what is good for all our residents. It also takes pressure off us. We are here to hold our employees accountable whether they are hourly or salary.”
Trustee Peter Olk asked what has been the tradition in the past.
Bellile said she made an open records request for the time sheets of the village administrator, chief of police and department of public works head.
She began to cite various examples from dates in October, when Village President Traci Martens spoke.
“I don’t know that we need to get into the detail of where they are during this particular meeting,” said Martens. “I think that the question though is how we as a board want to have the process going forward.
“My understanding of it from talking to staff and Jeanne last Friday was that the statues and directives we are getting from the state was that the village board can, not that the village board should. So it’s up to us to determine that direction on what we want,” said Martens.
“We had a great deal of detail in the past,” said Martens. In the farther off history of the village under different administrations, staff did not submit time sheets to the village president.
Olk said, “We’re not talking about signature verification here. We’re talking about tracking time.”
He said that when he was a salaried employee with the state Department of Veterans Affairs, he was required to keep time sheets within the time network called the Star Network.
“It always indicated where I was, what meetings I attended, my travel time, everything. I had to account for everything,” said Olk. “In my opinion, as a village taxpayer, I don’t want to do an open records request and see a time sheet that says 80 hours, and that’s it.”
“I think it should be delineated a little bit more, as to indications of what they did during that period of time. It doesn’t have to be expanded a lot. It just needs to be a simple report, such as a meeting in Outagamie County, or an after hour meeting for example. That’s my opinion,” said Olk.
Public Works Director Carl McCrary said, “That’s kind of the way we used to do it.”
Olk asked why it changed.
Wessel reported it was changed because it was questioned, and the village was under the impression it could not do that for salaried employees as a means to determine hours over 40 as time off.
Mischker said, “What staff would like is to have something definitely put into place. We’re not arguing about which route to go or anything, but up until now there hasn’t been a defined direction from the board stating this is what we want from the employee.”
“We’d like to have something that the village board agrees on so that we can follow it and you get the information that you need and we go ahead and put everything down,” said Mischker.
Wessel said there also needed to be a standardized method across all different departments. She noted that in the past the police department, administration, and library all handled time sheets differently.
“That also promoted us into looking at this,” said Wessel.
Olk said he would like every department head to have a time sheet of hours worked that delineates it down to meetings and projects they’re working on.
“That’s why we’re bringing this forward. There has to accountability to every employee,” said Bellile.
Wessel said, “I don’t think we have any disagreement here.”
Trustee Kelly Schleif agreed. “The board needs to direct Diane to move ahead with putting something in place so that it can become a policy and be placed in the employee handbook.”
“We need to create and define procedures for this,” said Martens.
She said it is evident that staff needs to go back to the old time sheets that were more itemized, but at the same time, the overall process needs fine-tuning.
“Perhaps it starts at the staff level, where they would bring a recommendation to the executive committee for consideration and future board approval,” said Martens.