When the prison workforce withdrew from Pima due to the pandemic last year, the town employed local teens using emergency Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funding to step in for them. The money is now gone and the inmates are back, but the Pima council voted Tuesday night to keep some of the teens on.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Pima Mayor C.B. Fletcher said Dennis Lines, public works director, is in desperate need of more help and the teens are useful to him. However, Fletcher said he recently learned the town may have been violating state law by allowing the kids to work more than 30 hours for 19 weeks-plus without paying them sick leave or health insurance. Under state law, part-time workers have to be afforded those benefits if they work beyond 30 hours, but the law also permits towns to hire part-time workers indefinitely if they work 19 hours a week or less.

“We need to correct this to get in line with the state statutes and that needs to happen immediately,” said Deborah Barr, Pima council member. “Yes, we don’t need to be abrupt with the employees, but I think we need to get in line with the statutes.”

The council voted unanimously to create a new policy that states temporary employees who have been with the town over 20 weeks can only work 19 hours a week or less.

If the town’s part-time employees are not capable of handling the demands of the public works department within those parameters, Fletcher said the town will hire another employee to compensate.

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