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story.lead_photo.caption The John G. Christy Municipal Building is pictured in Jefferson City. Photo by News Tribune / News Tribune.

The Jefferson City Council Committee on Administration recommended exempt city staff be eligible for overtime or compensation time during state or federal emergencies.

Typically, exempt employees are not paid for hours worked beyond 40 hours per week, according to city code.

Under the proposed policy, exempt employees who work over their salary hours would receive comp time or their additional hourly rate when the Missouri governor declares a state of emergency and when the Emergency Operations Center is activated and staffed.

The committee recommended the change in the personnel policy manual and sent it to the Jefferson City Council for final approval.

"We had this tornado event and flood event that all took place at one time," Human Resources Department Director Gail Strope said. "We had exempt employees who worked incredibly long periods of time. This would allow only in those cases where there is a declared emergency to be able to get either comp time or overtime."

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Managers and directors are generally salaried positions, including fire and police chiefs, assistant chiefs, captains and lieutenants. Those city staff, among others, worked overtime during recent natural disasters and cleanup. During those events, no additional pay or compensation was given to exempt employees, Strope said.

"Many of them worked 80 or 90 hours that week, and we had no way to compensate them," Strope said.

During the Jefferson City Budget Committee meeting Monday, Jefferson City Police Chief Roger Schroeder said the department generated more than 1,800 hours of overtime for non-exempt employees from May 22 through June 1.

"We weren't impacted as much as fire," Schroeder said. "Beyond that 1,886.5 hours, our exempt employees generated 580 hours so we're up to 2,466.5 hours of overtime between non-exempt and exempt employees within the police department. We had to pay most of it because there was very little put on the comp timesheet. We already had thousands of hours in comp time load."

The Jefferson City Finance Department is currently calculating the total number of hours worked by each department during the tornado and flooding, Jefferson City Finance Director Margie Mueller said.

With the policy in place, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and State Emergency Management Agency could reimburse those funds to the city, Strope said.

"This is not something that would be retroactive," she said. "This is something that really kind of came to light. If we have a situation like this again in the future, we need to have something in place so we can take care of those employees."

In other businesses Wednesday, the administration committee recommended surplus property be eligible for purchase by adjacent property owners when land proves difficult to sell.

The city puts surplus pieces of property up for public bid but does not receive bids because of the "limited value" of some properties, City Counselor Ryan Moehlman said. Most likely, adjacent property owners have more use for the irregularly shaped lots that are undevelopable to the city.

"We have lots of pieces of properties that you can't build on because they're too small," Moehlman said.

When neighbors contact the city about surplus lots, some are hesitant to go through the public bidding process though, he said.

Moehlman said he is not sure how many pieces of property the city owns that would fall under this proposed code.

"We get pieces of property for so many different reasons that it's hard to put a pinpoint number on that," he said.

The ordinance states if the City Council can decide whether a piece of property owned by the city has only one logical potential purchaser, this method of sale could be used.

The ordinance will move forward to the City Council for a final decision in September, Moehlman said.

The value of the lot to be sold would be calculated by "applying the neighboring lot's appraised land value, determined by the county assessor, to the lot to be sold on a per-square-foot basis," Moehlman said.

If the potential purchaser does not agree with the price of the land, the city would revert to the bid process.

"I think it would solve a problem that we have where we are potential are accumulating lots of land but don't have an effective means to return it back to private ownership," Moehlman said. "We want the properties to be returned to usefulness and the best way to do that is to say, 'Well it's going to go to the neighbor.'"

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