Ponoka’s overtime operations have been dropped by 30 per cent.
Town operations manager Chris McKenna was praised by council for slashing on-call costs during the regular meeting of council Sept. 11.
McKenna stated more than $23,000, down to $55,600 from $78,600, in on-call expenses will be saved annually as a result of the new on-call schedule now being implemented.
While there will remain one employee each from the town’s electrical and water/wastewater departments taking after-hours calls every day, the savings will be realized by changing the on-call schedule for the public works department to just three days each week through the winter.
Translated, that means public works will have an employee available — according to McKenna, mostly for possible snow events — from Friday night to Monday morning from Nov. 1 to March 31. That works out to just 66 days on-call each year, as opposed to the former 365 day on-call availability.
“We are exploring avenues to decrease the amount of overtime and will have more to report at a later date. Administration is committed to assessing our procedures and minimizing overtime spending. Our goal is to decrease this expense by as much as we can, hopefully more than 30 per cent,” he stated in his report.
McKenna added that the water/wastewater on-call employee will handle any public works or facilities issues during other times of the year.
For the Aquaplex and the arena, instead of spliting the on-call duties — one pool member for 18 weeks and two arena staff for a total of 60 weeks — the community services department will now have just one employee on-call each day of the year. That works out to an overall cut of 24 weeks.
All of the changes mean a decrease to at total of 165.5 weeks of on-call pay annually, down 68.5 weeks weeks from the previous schedule.
McKenna noted work is still being done on how to decrease overtime costs by the requested 30 per cent, as this change to the on-call procedure is the first step in an attempt to reduce overall costs in operations.