Members of the Utilities Services Board on Wednesday voted to give bonuses to the management team at Vincennes Water Utilities, taking the funds from some savings realized after a contractor in the fall of 2017 walked off a job at the waste water treatment plant.
Forty percent of the some $30,000 will go to general manager Kirk Bouchie with the other 60 percent divvied out among the utility’s four other managers.
Utility leaders took on the role of general contractor at the plant last year after Precision Piping & Mechanical Inc., the Evansville company awarded the $2.5 million contract, moved out of the facility on River Road in July, ultimately filing for bankruptcy.
PPMI was about 90 percent done with the project, which was adapting the plant to better rid waste water of phosphorous, a chemical dangerous to aquatic life.
Fortunately, the utility had both performance and payment bonds in place through an insurance company in Fairfield, Connecticut, and eventually, the utility received a payout of $267,000 to hire a contractor to finish the job.
Instead, Bouchie and the management team took on the rest of the project themselves, finishing the job on time and under budget.
In fact, the utility didn’t end up spending any of the $267,000, board members said Wednesday.
Board members Matt Schuckman and Ryan Clark led a committee that looked recently at employees’ salaries for 2019.
Schuckman said they found themselves honing in on that project, the way it was resolved and the savings realized. Any contractor that would have been hired by the utility to pick up where PPMI left off would likely have added 10 to 15 percent onto the expected cost.
So why not give that, he suggested to the board, to the utility’s own management team.
“We have a great team that went above and beyond their day-to-day responsibilities,” Schuckman said, pointing out that the management team does not get paid for overtime.
“And I can tell you that they spent a vast amount of time, above their daily duties, trying to figure out how best to get that project done.”
Schuckman said, too, that he believed strongly in “rewarding people for hard work,” and his fellow board members agreed.
Both Linda Levell and Mayor Joe Yochum commended the utility’s management team for stepping up to the plate and finishing the job.
Board member Brian Johnson, too, said the $267,000 “windfall wouldn’t have been possible without their work.”
“And they should be rewarded for that,” he said.
Board president Mike Sievers, too, said the bonuses were “100 percent with merit.”
The board also on Wednesday approved 3 percent pay increases for all of the utility’s 42 employees, and Bouchie said the utility recently saw a 5.3 percent decrease in health insurance costs for 2019.
Bouchie also reported that during a recent annual inspection by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, no violations were found at the waste water treatment plant, an event rather “unheard” of among Hoosier utilities.
Schuckman also stepped down from the board after reaching his term limit. The city council will now need to appoint someone to replace him.