The Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors approved a three-year contract with District Manager Rob Robinson on Thursday, March 29.
Human Relations Attorney Lara Donlon said one of the points of discussion was a five-day work week and hours, as opposed to four days a week.
“We do work long days here at the district,” Donlon said, explaining that the hours of operation are 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., five days a week. “We’re looking for typically a 40-hour-plus work week for a district manager, but by the same token, not literally 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.”
Supervisor Ralph Bair said the board had discussed similar issues with the former manager.
“We made arrangements to take whatever input the public would have, so it wasn’t necessary for the district administrator to be here all five days,” Bair said. “After all, he’s working 40-hour weeks just like everybody else, unless there’s an emergency declared or some situation that the board deems it necessary.”
Supervisor Jennifer Hager said she sees positive aspects of four-day work weeks.
“I’ve always been in favor of four/ten,” Hager said. “I think that’s productive. I think that maybe with a negotiation, that’s flexible.”
ITID President Betty Argue said clarification was needed whether the district manager should be present from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. four days a week, and whether the responsibilities of the district are Monday through Friday.
“One of the concerns that this board has expressed time and again is the fact that we need to have somebody here on Fridays. Generally speaking, the district wanted to have two people in the office at any given time, and we should not have an employee here by themselves,” Argue said. “It was my understanding that one of our staff members was going to be switching to hours on Friday, and that hasn’t happened yet. This is something that the district manager is going to have to address to make sure that those expectations of the board get addressed.”
Argue added that another aspect of the agreement was whether the manager should be available at all times and whether he could work from home sometimes.
Robinson, who was ITID’s director of operations and maintenance before he became acting manager several months ago, said he has made himself available by phone on weekends and at night.
Supervisor Carol Jacobs agreed that Robinson does not need to be there physically, but available by phone.
“You live in the neighborhood, in case you’re needed to come down, but I don’t think you need to sit here all day,” Jacobs said. “You do put in long hours. I’ve watched you.”
Robinson said he would be addressing the question of having two employees in the office on Fridays.
Supervisor Gary Dunkley said one of his issues when he was first elected was having the office open on Fridays. “This office should be accessible to the public,” Dunkley said. “Another thing I brought up was staggered shifts.”
Donlon recommended removing the Monday through Friday clause, since the contract stipulates the expectations of the manager in other places. “As I’ve heard from the board, it’s not so important that he is particularly sitting in this office on a Friday, but that the office is open and accessible to the public,” she said.
The board also agreed to $110,000 a year for Robinson’s salary.
“I do want to make clear, as a reminder to the public, while I am the district’s employment attorney, and I often have to work closely with the district manager, in this circumstance, I represent the board alone,” Donlon said. “This is not a situation where I represent Mr. Robinson.”
Based on discussions with Robinson, she recommended a salary range from $110,000 to $115,000 annually.
“I know Rob has suggested it should be at the high end, if not probably more, but to that end, the board may want to [be] somewhere in that range,” Donlon said.
Jacobs pointed out that Robinson would be hiring a director of operations and maintenance to replace his previous position before he became acting manager, and that his pay should be higher than his previous position.
Robinson said he has worked with the finance department to develop a pay schedule and that the positions do not overlap.
“The highest range of one should not be the lowest range of the next,” he said, explaining that the operations and maintenance department currently has two supervisors, with one supervising field crews and the other managing capital improvements.
Bair suggested paying Robinson $115,000 and go from there.
Dunkley said he felt Robinson’s salary was too high, pointing out that the former manager’s salary was significantly lower.
Argue recommended $110,000 annually, and Jacobs agreed.
After more discussion, Robinson said he would accept $110,000 annually.
“In the best interests of the board members and the taxpayers, since I do pay my own salary, I would accept the $110,000,” he said.
“That’s a check in my book for you,” Jacobs said.
Donlon pointed out that the contract provides an option for the board to adjust Robinson’s salary upward with a majority vote.
Provisions in the contract also provide for his use of a vehicle for official use, vacation time, sick leave, insurance and other benefits provided to district employees.