Rebecca Squires spoke to commissioners Jan. 4 with hopes to implement a policy that would prevent any individual county offices from creating policies that would contradict things already set within the county policy.
Squires said she would prefer that county personnel policy prevail over others, because employees are employed by the county and not individual offices.
Weston Davis from the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office stated that any policy should be run through legal, but elected officials can have different policies than what’s contained within the county, although they generally do not want to go through the process of it.
Squires requested that some wording be removed to indicate that if something is different in one department than from the county policy, to go with county policy instead.
Commissioner Scott Hancock said he agreed with Squires as it could open up a door allowing for a policy that would be completely contrary to what they’ve set in the county. He said things should mesh together but still allow specific requirements for each office’s operations.
Davis stated that while he gives advice to the commissioners, his statements are not intended to be public comment and any changes should have been requested before the public meeting when the action item was to take place.
Kristine Lund from the Treasurers Office wrote in the Zoom chat that she disagreed “...highly with the change that is being suggested. There is not a need. Anything that conflicts will be handled between the elected officials.”
Lund stated that the policy Squires was trying to implement is trying to take away authority from elected officials within the county because although employees are technically employed by the county, elected officials are still over those that work in their offices.
“I don’t understand what they’re trying to accomplish with this policy,” Lund said. “A policy change should never go before the board before employees have had a chance to see it yet.”
Squires did tell the commissioners that she did not have time to send the policy to all elected officials as she had been “behind the eight ball,” and Lund said there’s no rule that says they need to rush changing a policy.
“We might not all agree with whatever they’re trying to do with the policy, but the least we can all do is understand it,” Lund said.
The action item to approve the policy was ultimately tabled in order for Squires to allow all elected officials to look over the proposal.
They then moved to discussion on creating an Emergency Sick Leave policy that would give county employees five days of paid leave if they were to contract COVID-19.
According to Squires, she believes the county was able to avoid any office wide department closures because people were able to be home while they were sick, which gave them an incentive to recover before returning to work.
This policy was presented in response the ending of the Family First Coronavirus Response Act, which provided funding for free COVID-19 testing and 14 days of paid leave to sick employees, after it ended Dec. 31, 2020.
The county is not required to provide any paid sick leave to employees but Squires said the act was beneficial and that she was sad to see it end. She further stated that she would like to have the commissioners approve ten days of paid leave as opposed to five in order to prevent employees from coming back to work while they were still infectious.
Hancock stated that he understood that she would prefer ten days. Commissioners approved the policy stating that they would implement five days of sick leave and would revisit the policy in six months.
Following the policy approval, Squires moved onto asking for a job reclassification on the pay for maintenance and custodian personnel.
Colleen Poole stated that if the commissioners moved forward with approving this now, it would set precedent that people can come anytime during the year for a raise.
The discussion was tabled as the commissioners wanted Travis Thompson from maintenance to be present as well as possibly needing to place the topic under an Executive Session.