Village trustees approve revised policy

........................................................................................................................................................................................

After some acrimonious discussion among themselves and one citizen expressing her reservations, all the Magdalena village trustees except Barbara Baca voted to adopt an amended village personnel policy.

At the meeting, Mayor Sandy Julian said she decided to have village attorney Kathy Riley examine the 14-year-old policy for legal problems.

“I asked the attorney to look it over because the laws may have changed,” Julian said.

The new personnel policy reflects state statutes regarding the supervisory chain of command for village employees and overtime pay, village Clerk Rita Broaddus said in an interview after the meeting.

In the old policy, Broaddus said she as clerk was specified as a supervisor in charge of all personnel issues with the exception of hiring, firing and disciplinary actions. According to state statute, the mayor is in charge of all personnel matters.

“Now, the mayor is in charge of all personnel issues per state statute,” she said. “This (revision) changes the chain of command: The mayor is now explicitly identified in the policy.”

The other change was a chapter added about overtime.

“It (the chapter) reflects specifically on law enforcement,” Broaddus said. “By way of our attorney, we have discovered there is a Fair Labor Standards Act law that indicates if we have four or fewer police officers, payment of overtime is an option even if they work 100 hours in a bimonthly pay period. Hours past 80 do not have to be paid at time and a half.

“Based on another formula, depending on how many days in the work period, we were paying overtime,” she said. Previously, marshals working in excess of 92 hours in a 15-day period were paid overtime.

During the public hearing portion of the meeting, Sarah Cearley, wife of Magdalena Marshal Larry Cearley, objected to the revised policy on the grounds it would create financial hardship for marshals already employed and decrease the chances of hiring qualified law enforcement officers in the future.

Cearley also said the chain of authority provisions would not protect employees against indirect supervision by a family member.

Trustees Barbara Baca and Dolly Dawson questioned Mayor Julian about transparency, saying they had not been “polled” on the revisions before the meeting.

In the end, all the trustees except Baca voted to adopt the revised policy.

In other matters:

  • Trustees voted to accept deputy marshal Farel Lillenthal’s resignation effective Feb. 6.
  • Broaddus said she will apply for government grants to fund work on the village water well.
  • Z.W. Farnsworth recommended using village lodgers’ tax revenue to pay for a two-page advertisement for the village in the 2013 Socorro County Visitors Guide. The trustees voted to allot $2,086 for the advertisement. Broaddus said the village had collected between $18,000 and $20,000 in lodgers’ tax revenue. Farnsworth also reported that he and other volunteers have nearly completed renovations to the old senior center. The center will function as a Red Cross emergency shelter.
  • Marshal Larry Cearley requested mileage and per diem to attend a two-day training session in Albuquerque. The deputies who were trained on the use of the IR 8000 alcohol detection device are no longer working for the village, he said. All the trustees agreed to grant his request except for Baca, who abstained.
  • Marshal Cearley also requested permission to advertise for a new marshal’s deputy. All the trustees agreed to that request except for Baca, who abstained.
  • The next village board of trustees meeting will be held Feb. 25 at 6 p.m. at the village hall rather than the usual third Monday because of a federal holiday and the mayor and clerk’s visit with state legislators in Santa Fe that week.