CHAPEL HILL — About 20 orange-shirted public works employees delivered a message Wednesday night: They want their paychecks every week.
The Town Council hosted a public hearing on the 2007-08 town budget Wednesday. The meeting focused not on how much the town is spending but on when it cuts the checks.
At a recent work session, the council authorized Town Manager Roger Stancil to look into moving all town employees to a bi-weekly pay schedule.
Right now, about 200 employees, including those in public works, receive their paychecks every week. The other 600 are paid bi-weekly. Combine that with staggered pay periods, and the town has three different payroll schedules.
Stancil said Chapel Hill is too big a town for that kind of inefficiency. "A lot of people are working overtime to make it happen," he said.
But Sam Rone, a public works employee, said weekly pay was one of the perks that drew him to the job 15 years ago. He said he agreed to be available on nights and weekends and during special events, such as Halloween.
"You agreed to pay me every week. That's what you agreed to," he said. "I'll be here until the day I die or the day I retire, whichever comes first. I ask you to do the same for me."
Stancil said he has been investigating ways to bring all town employees under a single payroll schedule without greatly disrupting their lives. "You plan your life around that," he said.
Stancil said he has offered $50 gasoline cards and promised to wait until February to implement the bi-weekly payroll. But not all employees are satisfied.
"The employees who are dissatisfied ... aren't limited to just the people who are here," Town Council member Mark Kleinschmidt said Wednesday. "It's going to affect their everyday life."
"The guys in orange here are your sweat, blood and tears," local NAACP officer Fred Battle said, speaking on behalf of the mostly black public works employees. "They deserve to be paid on a weekly basis."