Long County Commissioners addressed several issues regarding employees at the Jan. 5. meeting.
The first matter discussed was sheriff’s deputies’ compensation for paid holidays. Several deputies, including Chief Deputy Robert Berry and Sheriff Cecil Nobles, went before the commission to voice concerns. According to the law enforcement officers, a change to the payment system this year penalizes them so they are not paid the same holidays for which other county employees are compensated.
According to Commission Chairman Bobby Walker and First District Commissioner David Richardson, since the deputies are shift employees who don’t work a standard work week, they are not entitled to be paid for days they were already scheduled to be off. Walker also said the deputies are paid correctly on holidays they do work because they’re paid "double-time" on those shifts.
Second District Commissioner Wallace Shaw did not agree with the summation. "Fair is fair," he said. "The other employees are paid for these days and I think they need to be paid just like the other employees."
Fourth District Commissioner Cliff DeLoach made a motion to change the deputies’ pay system back and compensate them for paid holidays. It was seconded by Third District Commissioner Andy Fuller and the measure passed when Shaw voted in favor of it, too. Walker and Richardson opposed the change.
Commissioners also talked about the work schedule for the county road department. According to the commission, complaints have been logged by members of the county regarding the department working 10-hour workdays Monday through Thursday, especially regarding the upkeep on roads. After a brief discussion with the road department supervisor, it was decided workers will be rescheduled to ensure that half of the personnel works on Mondays and the other half works on Fridays.
The manner in which county employees will be hired in the future also was changed at the meeting. Commissioners decided that any future hiring, regarding departments under the commissioner — such as the tax assessor’s office, code enforcement office and the road department — must be approved by all commissioners. The motion also established that job openings must be advertised. The guidelines cover both full- and part-time positions.
In other business, commissioners:
• Re-elected Fifth District Commissioner Bobby Walker as chairman for the 2010-11 year.
• Voted to fly the U.S. flag at half-mast in honor of the late Senior U.S. District Judge Anthony Alaimo, who died last week.
• Heard a presentation by Nobles on the need to establish a jail in the county. After the presentation, Nobles was told that he needed to submit a plan for a jail to the commission, including preliminary costs, sizes and maintenance costs.
• Heard a presentation from Chris Emmer, from the Coastal Regional Commission, on the importance of the county completing its partial plan update of the comprehensive plan.
• Discussed re-establishing a wetland area adjacent to the recreation complex.