The Heard County Board of Commissioners held a work session on September 13 at 5 p.m. After an invocation given by Commissioner Sandi Allen of District 5, an update on Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) was presented to the board by county Project Manager Kevin Hamby. Hamby told the board that the county had projected a total of 41 million dollars stemming from SPLOST.
The board allocated funds under that projection as follows: the county was expected to receive $33,210,000, amongst the cities of Heard County, the remaining balance of $7,790,000 was to be divided equally. However, the original projection fell substantially short. The county has only received $30,948,390. Due to this shortfall, the county can now more accurately project the actual amount SPLOST will generate.
According to the current, more accurate projection, the county will not have sufficient funds to pay for the intended SPLOST funded projects. Kevin Hamby then stated “$425,000 a check over the next nine checks is the magic number,” meaning that this number would clear the county of all debt and leave Heard County with a positive balance in the SPLOST account at the year’s end.
The next item of discussion fell under the category of “Discuss Personnel Policy Issues,” and addressed the “policy regarding department heads.” Commissioner Allen brought up this issue by expressing how the chairman of the board had the authority to hire and terminate county employees and the board had no say so in these decisions.
Allen commented that she wanted the board to be more “in the loop,” about these actions. Commissioner Gwen Caldwell of District 3 articulated that he believed the authority to hire and terminate employees should reside with the chairman since the chairman handled the county’s “day to day operations,” and therefore had a better understanding of employees’ capabilities and work habits. “I feel like we need to leave it like it is,” stated Caldwell.
The board seemed to come to the general consensus that the ability to hire and terminate department heads should stay with the chairman; however, they also expressed a desire to be kept more informed about said actions.
A discussion regarding “cap on annual leave,” took place next. The issue at hand concerned employees who have multiple hours of leave left at the end of the year that continuously build up and carry over into the next year.
Commission Chairman June Jackson explained that if all these employees were fiscally compensated for these built up hours, it would be a significant sum of money.
Commissioner Frank Crook of District 4 asked the question “What do other counties do?” to which Commissioner Allen answered, “They cap it.” County employee Chris Cumby reported his findings after a survey done of the surrounding counties’ procedures.
He told the board that many of the surrounding counties in situations like Heard County’s capped the number of hours that could be built up and made offers of monetary compensation to employees with a large number of existing hours. Commissioner Caldwell seemed to agree with these findings stating, “We need to be making some kind of arrangements.”
County employees John Cash, Phillip Spradlin, and Robert Nelms were all present at the meeting and expressed their willingness to cooperate with the board on this issue. Commissioner Allen asked if the employees “could be given options,” as to how they would like to receive their earned compensation from this saved leave time.
County Financial Director Felicia Adams suggested to the board that they set a cap on the number of hours to better allow her to proceed with putting a value on the number of hours accumulated by each employee. She stated, that “roughly 21 employees have significant leave time built up.” She also explained that once the cap was set, money could be moved into a separate account to allot for compensation of built up hours.
Many different caps were suggested including 480 hours, which would cover twelve weeks of time, and 420 hours, which would cover six weeks of time. Adams told the board that a number figure would be available by their September meeting, which would allow them to more easily make a decision. Chairman Jackson then proposed to have a small work session before this meeting to aid in the decision making process.
The final item on the agenda that was discussed was compensation time. Chairman Jackson communicated that county employees who work over forty hours are paid with time and a half as compensation time. Commissioner Allen described a scenario in which a worker may take thirty hours to complete a job one week and seventy hours to complete a job the next week and ended her example by speaking about how the number of hours it takes to complete a job is irrelevant “As long as the job gets done.”
Commissioner Karen Isenhower of District 1 commented, “If we’re going to allow people to be paid for working overtime, then we need to dock their pay for leaving work early.” Adams told the board that all department heads were paid on salary and that “generally speaking, comp. hours are paid to administration.” Darold Wiggins, Public Works Director,” stated, “for a salary person to be paid comp. time is illogical.”
He conveyed to the board that even though he rightfully earns his compensation hours, to efficiently do his job, he can not feasibly take those hours off.
His suggestion to the board was for employees that have jobs that require them to work well over forty hours a week, to base their salaries off of a fifty hour work week compared to the current basis of a forty hour week, considering that in some cases “there is no way the job can be done in forty hours.” The work session was then ended.
(DISCLAIMER: The publisher of this website, Russ Massa, is currently running for the office of Heard County Commission Chairman. The above meeting article is courtesy of the Times~Journal and written solely by Gracie Rowe. Neither Russ Massa nor HeardCitizen.com had any input into the writing of this article.)