Albion PD contract is confusing, and doesn’t spell out how to calculate hourly rate

Posted 27 July 2022 at 8:49 am

Editor:

This is in response to Andrew Remley’s letter to the editor entitled “Albion mayor did the right thing in disclosing apparent overpayments to Albion PD.”

The contract with Albion PD, as written (which is easily accessed online without a FOIL request) is confusing and does not specifically address how the hourly rate was to be calculated for overtime purposes. If there was a verbal agreement or “understanding” then that needed to be fully fleshed out in the written agreement in language that was not subject to misinterpretation.

Article XXI, which is solely dedicated to overtime, says “payment shall be made at the rate

of time and one-half the employee’s normal hourly rate for all hours worked over twelve hours in one day.”

“Hourly rate” and “salary” are referenced in the contract multiple times, but there is nowhere in the document that actually says how the hourly rate is to be calculated. The police were to be “scheduled” 84 hours bi-weekly, but again, there is zero indication that 84 hours was to be paid at straight time, or used to establish an hourly rate for overtime purposes.

For comparison, here is the wording in Medina PDs contract: “ARTICLE 26 OVERTIME The standard work week shall consist of 40 hours. The standard work day shall consist of eight hours.”

There is little room for misinterpretation in Medina’s contract. Even the verbiage in the Albion contract related to the work week can be open to interpretation, because rather than use the term “work week” they use the term “The number of hours actually scheduled to be worked in the work week shall be.”

“Number of hours actually scheduled” doesn’t even imply they have to work those hours to get paid their base salary, it just means they have to be “scheduled” to work those hours.

Now if you take the term “normal hourly rate,” most hourly rates are based on a 40-hour work week, so this is an easy mistake to make, if it is not clearly addressed in the contract.

Regardless, the contract, as written, should have included an addendum or some language that specified what was meant by “normal hourly rate.”

Nevertheless, if there was an alleged error of this magnitude in handling the police department’s payroll, why not run an audit of the entire payroll for all the departments in the Village over the same time period?  In focusing on the Albion PD, it creates the impression, real or not, that the police are being targeted.

Where the real confusion lies is in the fact that nobody seems to want to answer who was responsible for the implementation of the policy that was supposed to reduce overtime? Also, in reviewing the annual budgets didn’t anyone notice that overtime costs were not being reduced as a result of the policy? You had at least four budgets passed over the period the alleged error occurred.

Ultimately we all have to realize that police officers and all government employees are individuals, and are just as fallible as everyone else. Thus, it is important to handle sensitive issues with dignity and to make sure all the facts are gathered before making a decision that could have a long-term impact on the morale of the police department.

Thom Jennings

Oakfield, formerly of Albion