Denham Springs to limit overtime for city employees _lowres

Advocate staff photo by STEVE HARDY -- The Denham Springs Animal Shelter is receiving two new donations.

Denham Springs City Council on Tuesday closed a loophole in the city’s employee pay code expected to save tens of thousands of dollars per year.

Under the previous code, employees were able to include vacation time in the calculation to determine when they could begin receiving overtime pay. City employees — with the exception of police officers, whose overtime starts after 84 hours per 14-day period, and firefighters, whose overtime starts after 204 hours per 27-day period — must accumulate 40 hours per week before earning time-and-a-half-pay. Now, the city employees will not be allowed to count vacation time to qualify for overtime pay.

Mayor Jimmy Durbin said allowing employees to accumulate hours through vacation time cost the city an additional $22,000 in the last seven months. He said he was not aware of any private companies or municipal governments that have such a pay structure, which had been implemented in Denham Springs in the ’90s.

When asked, the mayor said the use of vacation time to earn time-and-a-half pay did not appear to be limited to any particular department and that the matter seemed to stretch “across the board.”

No one spoke in the public hearing on the issue before it was unanimously passed by the council, minus absent member John Wascom, who was helping prepare for the city’s official Christmas tree lighting.

Four-legged denizens of Denham Springs received several bits of good news.

The council voted to accept a $20,425 grant from the state Local Government Assistance Program to benefit the Denham Springs Animal Shelter.

The money will be used to build an outdoor kennel to house new arrivals where they can be examined for potential diseases and aggression before being placed with other animals at the facility.

The shelter also received a donation of a vehicle from the Livingston Council on Aging that will help workers take dogs and cats to veterinary appointments more safely and efficiently.

The City Council revealed a new proposed ordinance to address food trucks operating in the city. The council had previously introduced a contentious proposal that would have banned food trucks from operating within 300 feet of businesses that sell food, but it was tabled last month.

The new proposed ordinance removes that stipulation but still requires trucks to hold a business license before serving food in the city. The license ensures the trucks submit to health inspections.

The proposal also requires that food trucks operate out of a commissary where food can be stored and prepared, waste disposed and the vehicle stored when not in use. The commissary, which is not allowed to be in a private home, will be subject to health inspections.

The proposed ordinance provides further regulations on truck size, garbage cleanup and other considerations but has a clause grandfathering in current food trucks that are already operating legally within the city.

The council will host a public hearing and vote on the matter during its next meeting, Dec. 22 at 6 p.m. in the Denham Springs Municipal Building.

Follow Steve Hardy on Twitter, @SteveRHardy.