City switches earlier decision, makes Krombeen a city employee

The city of Williams has changed Magistrate Rob Krombeen's employment status to a regular part time employee, reversing the city council's March 28 decision to keep him as an independent contractor.

Krombeen signed an employment agreement with the city May 22. The agreement expires Dec. 31, 2014, when Krombeen's magistrate term ends. Under the agreement, Krombeen does not receive benefits or sick or vacation time.

City Manager Brandon Buchanan said after speaking with representatives from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), city officials decided classifying Krombeen as an employee would comply better with IRS guidelines.

"Everybody's doing the same thing as they were before the change in classification, the responsibilities are all the same, the costs are the same," Buchanan said. "It was just based on the IRS' guidelines for what qualifies as an independent contractor versus what is required to be an employee."

Mayor John Moore agreed that the new classification better suits the position.

"After investigating and looking into it, it appeared that most towns have their judge as an employee," he said.

Moore said the change in classification will benefit both Krombeen and the city.

"The city has more control over employees than it does contract people," Moore said.

The council initially considered the employment status of the magistrate and pro-tem judges at its March 14 meeting, but could not reach a decision.

At the March 28 meeting, the council approved Krombeen continuing to work as an independent contractor, with the term of his contract running concurrently with his justice of the peace term. Krombeen had worked as an independent contractor under his previous contract with the city, which expired in December 2012.

Krombeen requested that the city hire him as a city employee instead of an independent contractor because he did not have insurance to protect him from any liabilities.

For example, Krombeen said if an altercation occurred when he directed the bailiff to take someone into custody, the bailiff would have liability protection as a county employee, but he would not.

"Of course we don't have conflict in the court often, but it's one of those things that no typical businessperson would operate without reasonable liability insurance, just because that's the cost of doing business," he said.

Another reason Krombeen wished to be an employee was because he is subject to city policies, duties and certain hours.

"When the city or anyone else hires a contractor to do a job, they don't tell them when to show up for work, they don't tell them how to do their job," Krombeen said. "They just have to perform their duties to the end result."

Finally, as an independent contractor, Krombeen said he was in a tax bracket as if he were self-employed.

Krombeen said he was not involved in further discussions with the council after its initial decision to keep him as an independent contractor.

"I was very pleasantly surprised by the council's support of that earlier request," Krombeen said of his request to become a city employee.

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