Pulaski County Council Not Ready to Make Building Department Assistant Full-Time

Pulaski County Building Department Assistant Karla Kreamer will apparently remain at part-time status for now. After multiple lengthy discussions Monday, the county council decided not to take any action to change her employment to full-time, despite a favorable recommendation from the county commissioners.

Building Inspector Doug Hoover argued that the change was needed for his department to run properly, citing a sharp increase in workload. “The problem is I have to be out in the field at times,” he explained. “She’s only part-time. People call in. They get aggravated. They say, ‘Aw, heck with it! I don’t even want to deal with it.'” Hoover said that’s preventing the Building Department from achieving its full revenue potential. He presented council members with statistics on his department’s activities, along with the revenue increases it’s seen already this year.

Kreamer said it’s become impossible to complete all of her duties on her current schedule. “The job has just turned into being a lot more than it was when I started it,” she said. “Things just have progressed in our county so quickly in businesses coming in, and I’m not talking small things. We’re talking a thousand acres for this, 500 for that.” That’s on top of dealing with the county’s blight elimination program, as well as numerous complaints about rental properties and abandoned vehicles.

Council President Jay Sullivan noted the financial impact of expanding Kreamer’s role into a full-time job. “The starting wage would be around $26,000 for the first few months,” he said. “It would jump up to $30,000 after six months. Right now, he’s got $24,000 in his Part-Time Help, which means we’d have to have an additional of $2,000 into Doug’s fund. Transfer the $24,000 from Part-Time to Full-Time and have an additional for about $2,000, and then, of course, the benefits would come out of County General.”

During Monday’s joint session, the county commissioners voted to move Kreamer from part-time to full-time, effective January 1. Sullivan thought council members had previously agreed to approve the change if the commissioners did, but council member Ken Boswell disagreed.

He thought the consensus had been to hold off on any staff increases until a fiscal plan could be completed. “We’re talking about a fiscal plan,” Boswell said. “We’ve been talking about it for a long time, and we’re still not ready to pull the chain. And I know Doug’s been in here a number of times talking, too, but this is the first time I’ve seen this information or anything presented. But right now, we’re ready to change something right away?”

Toward the end to the council’s regular meeting, Sullivan called for members to make a decision, but no one made any motion. Sullivan noted that will keep Kreamer part-time, but that council members can always revisit the matter in the future. In any case, the extra money that would be required was not included in Hoover’s 2019 budget, so a transfer and additional appropriation would likely be needed.