Brian Helms, president of the St. Mary Board of Aldermen, said last week he’s trying to get a handle on all of the city’s revenue streams and expenses. Carl Wyatt, the city’s former mayor, said Helms was heading into dangerous territory in asking questions about the expenses related to city collections on water and sewer bills.
Their exchange took place during the budget work session on February 13 that followed the regular meeting.
Helms talked with city clerk David Woods about a variety of budget topics, including comp time and how much the city workers have accrued by working beyond 40 hours in certain weeks. Woods said the number is not use-it-or-lose-it annually like vacation time.
Information provided by Woods in January showed police chief Tim Maurice with 63.75 hours of comp time, city worker Michael Rosenzweig with 515.75 hours and city worker Frankie Ullman with 611.5 hours.
Helms asked Woods to prepare for future meetings a worksheet with compensation packages that included annual insurance costs for all the employees.
Helms asked about the collector’s position to clarify that in addition to water and sewer, the elected position — currently occupied by Annette Hacker — also collects additional tax revenue, including vehicle tags, animal tags and fire tags.
The data that Woods provided the aldermen in January indicated the collector’s position, which works 22 hours per week, made $17,197 in gross wages plus an additional $2,413 paid to an assistant.
Helms calculated that the position would have worked 1,144 hours per year, resulting in per-hour compensation of $18.
Wyatt began to question whether Helms understood that the position was not a city employee but was an elected position.
Wyatt said Helms referred to her as an employee, which Helms disputed.
Helms then told Wyatt he was talking to the clerk.
“I’m trying to be nice to you,” Wyatt responded. “You’re getting yourself in trouble. She is elected. … She works four days a week, and she works more than 22 hours.”
Helms said Wyatt didn’t have the floor.
“This city’s in trouble,” Wyatt said as he left the building.
Helms said he just wanted to clarify the city’s costs for collections.
“That number there is a cost to our city,” Helms said. “It’s an elected official, I know, but we’re paying the person to collect for us, so we need to know what those numbers are when we put our budgets together so we can fine-tune exactly what the income is after we’ve paid our expenses. Collection is an expense.”
See complete story in the February 20 edition of the Herald.