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By KEVIN KOELLING
TELL CITY – The Perry County commissioners voted in a regular meeting April 16 to make the county highway superintendent’s position part time and shift some of his duties to the department’s operations manager.
“We’ve been working the last several months to make some changes in the job classifications at the Perry County Highway Department,” Commissioner Tom Hauser said. “What we have done, basically, is consolidate some duties and made the highway superintendent a part-time position. In doing so, we’ve had to move a lot of the responsibilities, all of the day-to-day responsibilities, to the operations manager.”
The commissioners approved unanimously motions to change both men’s job descriptions and a transfer of funds from a full-time-superintendent line item in the county budget to one for a part-time superintendent.
Superintendent Ed Feix’s hours and salary were cut in half and he’ll no longer receive benefits such as retirement, health insurance or sick days, Hauser explained. The changes, to be effective June 1, will result in savings of $40,000 to $50,000 yearly.
“It had nothing to do with Ed Feix’s performance,” Hauser said after the meeting. The operations manager, Steve Howell, will take on more responsibilities in what Hauser called a “streamlining like most companies do.” Work on the changes began about a year ago, he added.
“The operations manager needs to be out there every day,” Hauser explained, “because he deals with all of the day-to-day stuff.” He is “the direct supervisor of the crew, so making his position part time wouldn’t make sense.”
Feix will handle bid work, budget and grant issues and work with the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration, Hauser said.
“He just will not be dealing with the public or the employees,” Commissioner Bill Amos added.
“For the most part,” Hauser said. “He’s got the duty of safety director.”
Many counties are making such moves, he continued. Some are combining the positions of highway superintendent and county engineer, but “we decided years ago that the county didn’t need an engineer. We had one, then decided it wasn’t necessary.”
“He thinks it’s good for the county,” Hauser said of Feix, whose biweekly salary was $1,801.34 and will now be $900.67, according to County Auditor Connie Berger.
“I’ve got no problem with that at all,” Feix said Wednesday about the change, agreeing it was “something we’ve been looking at for some time.”
The county council approved at their regular meeting April 25 the transfer of $12,610 to the part-time-superintendent line item and $2,693 to the operations-manager line item.
The commissioners will next gather in the Perry Central High School library at 7 p.m. today for a meeting County Administrator Teresa Kanneberg said will be similar to a town-hall session. They will introduce themselves, then open the floor for questions, comments and concerns, she said.
Their next regular meeting will begin at 6 p.m. Monday in the county courthouse.