The village’s policy on drug testing is more than 30 years old, said village trustee Don Hackett, and the job of updating it is “more than I thought at first.” Town clerk Lisa Mayone is going over the plan and policies to bring them up to date, he said.
The report on progress for updating brought up some controversy regarding who needs to be tested. Random tests are conducted regularly on town employees whose jobs could pose risks to themselves or others if they are impaired by drugs. The drug-testing plan apparently adopted from the town’s plan in 1986 was never updated, Hackett said. “We have a choice; we could put every position in there with a job title, or we can leave it as is. I think most every job is safety-sensitive.”
The policy lists positions to be tested, but has a line stating “plus all safety-sensitive-duty town positions,” Hackett said. “This was obviously adopted by the town in 1986 and never updated. They just put Village of Saugerties on it.”
“It should be everybody or nobody,” said mayor William Murphy. He noted the board could face a lawsuit if the listing appeared to be discriminatory.
The policy now calls for drug testing on hiring, and then random testing and testing for drugs following on-the-job accidents, Hackett said. He suggested that all new employees be given a copy of the policy to sign. He noted that Mayone was undertaking a massive task, going through the lengthy document and changing the wording to “village” where it now says “town.”
Mayone asked whether the policy should include all departments, including the fire department.
Ed Quirk, a firefighter, suggested the members of the village board members should be tested as well. “If I’m going to work for you people,” he said, “I want to know that you are drug-free, too.”
Murphy had no problem being tested. Hackett stood up and said, “I’m ready to be tested now.” But trustee Terry Parisian said board members are elected officials, not employees.
Murphy also wondered whether firefighters should be included in the village testing, as they are volunteers, not employees. Quirk said he has no problem with testing firefighters.
As far as the number of employees and the number of tests is concerned, Murphy pointed out that each test costs the village $50. “That’s my problem with testing volunteer firefighters,” he said.
On a more positive note, Murphy read a message from a homeowner praising code enforcement officer Eyal Saad and the firefighters for their work and skill in fighting a fire at 90 Dock Street. He said he would be making a donation to the fire department.