The Smithtown Town Board voted unanimously Tuesday to appoint a former town worker to a part-time post to implement the municipality's new employee drug policy.
Steve Cantrell, who retired in January 2013 as an Employee Assistance Program coordinator, will be rehired to the same post effective Feb. 10. The position is part time and pays $40 an hour, not to exceed $30,000 in a year. The vote was 5-0.
Town officials and the Smithtown Civil Service Employees Association, which represents about 400 unionized town workers, reached an agreement last year that subjects all employees who operate town vehicles to random alcohol and drug tests. Previously, only employees with Commercial Driver Licenses were subject to the tests, officials said.
"We probably have in excess of 100 employees who don't have CDL licenses but operate smaller vehicles or pickup trucks for the town on a daily basis on a public highway," said Councilman Edward Wehrheim. "We ought to ensure that they're drug-free if they're operating a town vehicle, to protect the public."
Cantrell will work with employees who need assistance with personal issues and work-related conflicts, and will act as the town's substance abuse professional to evaluate employees "who run afoul of the new drug policy," said Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio.
Vecchio and Councilman Thomas McCarthy initially expressed concern about rehiring a retired town worker.
"We were under the impression that he was going to get $30,000 in salary," Vecchio said. "It was further explained that Mr. Cantrell would only be paid when he interacts with an employee on an hourly basis up to $30,000" and that he had a second license necessary for the post.
Councilman Robert Creighton pointed out the cost savings.
"To go outside and hire a new employee assistance coordinator would probably cost us $75,000 or $80,000 plus benefits, and Mr. Cantrell is willing to do the job and will not receive benefits from the town," Creighton said.Smithtown CSEA president Kelly Brown said she was "thrilled" by Cantrell's return to a position he held for more than 20 years and where he had gained employees' trust.