Smoking habits could cost town employees

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, July 20, 2005

MONTICELLO –┬áMonticello employees who smoke in public vehiclesor buildings could face stiff penalties.

Town ordinances already prohibited employees from smoking inpublic buildings or vehicles but did not lay out any penalties forthose who violated the ordinance.

Mayor David Nichols said his office has received severalcomplaints from the public about employees violating that law andrecommended aldermen “put some teeth into the existingordinance.”

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The ordinance, as amended, says that employees caught smoking ina public vehicle or building will be suspended for one day on thefirst offense, three days on the second offense and be subject totermination on the third and subsequent offenses.

The provision takes effect immediately.

The mayor originally suggested first-time offenders be suspendedfor three days and for second or greater offenses they be subjectto termination.

“It doesn’t mean they would be; it means they could be,” hesaid.

Aldermen expressed no disagreement in strengthening theordinance but did voice concerns about the suggested penalties.

Ward Five Alderman Craig “Bowie” Davis questioned the severityof the penalties. He said possible termination for a second offensefor something like smoking in a vehicle might be a bitexcessive.

Ward One Alderman Jerry Goode said his concern was that thewording on second offenses was a bit vague.

“People should know right away what the penalty is,” hesaid.

Police Chief David Stanley pointed out that the law could beabused by those who don’t like certain city employees andquestioned how much proof would be required before the boardterminated an employee under the law.

“If an alderman says he saw it, he’s an elected official and Ihave to believe him,” Nichols said. “A general citizen will need tobring me something showing an offense,” such as a picture.