Purcellville Council Weighs Requests for Staff Additions

With a proposed budget that already envisions adding two police officers and two part-time Town Hall positions, the Purcellville Town Council could be adding yet another full-time position to the staff.

During Wednesday’s budget work session, Town Manager David Mekarski requested a change to make Division Manager Amie Ware’s part-time position fulltime. Mekarskisaid that Ware’s responsibilities have increased and that she is now working an average of more than 30 hours each week. As the town’s designated principal point of contact with Shaun Alexander Enterprises—the new management of the Fireman’s Field complex—Ware is required to attend more meetings and communicate more frequently with the firm, according to a staff report.

Although Mekarski said the public-private partnership with Alexander’s firm was a “great idea,” he said it has increased “the level of intensity of the entire [Parks and Recreation] staff.”

If the Town Council approves the request, Ware’s position would cost $49,790 more annually.

Also discussed during the session was the question of whether the town is in compliance with the Affordable Care Act, which requires the town to offer full-time employees affordable health care coverage. Because Ware is averaging more than 30 hours each week, her position could be defined under the act as fulltime and require the town to offer her coverage.

“Were bumping right up against the 30 hours,” said Finance Director Elizabeth Krens. “That’s what we’re concerned about.”

The act does, however, also define a full-time position as being one that averages more than 130 hours in a month. If Ware is below that threshold, although still occasionally working more than 30 hours each week, her position could be deemed part time. In this case, the town would not be required by the act to offer her coverage.

“I don’t want to have an employee who’s supposed to be properly covered by an act like ACA and not be covered,” said Councilman Doug McCollum.

Ware is already working 28 hours each week as a staff liaison for three committees, processing special event permit requests, helping to plan town events, managing the budget for the Parks and Recreation Division and writing press releases and grant proposals.

To alleviate Ware’s workload, Councilman Ryan Cool suggested that Marty Kloeden, the town’s part-time grant and insurance coordinator, take on Ware’s grant-writing duties.

“I don’t think [Ware’s] position should be responsible for writing grants,” he said. “If there’s a significant amount of grants that we need to do, I don’t think somebody that’s covering three meetings and doing meeting minutes for three meetings should be writing grants.”

Mekarski said that Kloeden still needs to work closely with Ware to write the best grants possible. “It’s always a collaborative approach,” he said.

Mekarski also proposed increasing Events Specialist Hibah Salah’s hours from 20 to 24 hours per week to compensate for the additional time she needs to work alongside Alexander’s firm. Her job responsibilities include managing events like the town’s Music and Arts Festival and Wine and Food Festival, which are held at the Fireman’s Field complex.

That action would cost $4,754 more annually.

Those requested staffing changes are in addition to proposals laid out earlier by then-interim town manager John Anzivino to hire two full-time police officers at $75,000 annually each, a part-time revenue technician in the Finance Department at $26,000 annually and a part-time special assistant to the town manager at $48,000 annually.

Vice Mayor Nedim Ogelman questioned why the requests are being made now, noting that it might be better for the town to use the results of its planned operational assessment early fall. “It would be smarter to do those things and then broach this issue … rather than do this now without that information,” he said.

Mekarski said that he wants to move forward with the staffing changes now, since Ware and Salah are working more hours than before and because he wants to ensure the town is complying with federal laws.

“As your new manager I’m asking for … a leap of faith,” he said. “I don’t have to wait for an organizational assessment to address this organizational deficiency.”

The Town Council will discuss the proposed changes at its next budget work session on May 23.

pszabo@loudounnow.com

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