Second pilot is contracted for river ferry

Published 11:40 am Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A second pilot to keep the Kings Point Ferry running through the busy deer hunting season was signed Monday in a contract that costs $9 more an hour than Warren County pays two pilots currently employed on the vessel.

Warren County supervisors OK’d a contract with Paul G. Koestler to serve as a contract pilot for the ferry, on the recommendation of Road Manager Richard Winans.

Koestler, who works with the Corps of Engineers’ Mat Sinking Unit, will work weekend shifts until a pilot injured off the job returns to work, Winans said. The county’s only other pilot shouldered much the workload in early November before service was suspended for four days. Trips continued Nov. 21.

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Hourly pay was set at $25 in the contract, which passed unanimously. Staff pilots are paid about $16 an hour. The position is treated as an independent contractor and will not be paid health insurance benefits or have taxes withheld, according to the contract.

Koestler, the contract says, will be available to work up to 36 hours a week. The contract may be terminated by either party on two weeks’ notice, it says.

With two pilots, the contract says, the Board of Supervisors can maintain a 12-hour daily schedule and comply with Coast Guard regulations. In September, three groups of property owners on Kings Point Island asked the county be found in contempt of a 1997 court order that stipulated service for 15 hours daily.

County officials contend staffing and budget issues have forced them to employ two Coast Guard-certified pilots and offer the service 12 hours daily. The case is before Special Chancery Court Judge Ray H. Montgomery.