County clamps down on comp time loopholes

Staff reporter

In an effort to reduce the county's liability for payment of compensatory time, Marion County Commission approved a memorandum April 30, to all county employees that will tighten the compilation of overtime.

The commission reviews comp time reports from each department on a monthly basis.

Commissioner Dan Holub asked if comp time could be denied if no valid reason is provided. Maggard said the law states that comp time is not allowed without prior approval from a supervisor.

Holub said he was concerned about employees putting down five or 10 minutes of comp time.

"I'd rather see two hours than 15 minutes," he said.

Maggard said another signature line could be added to the form where the supervisor would sign to indicate authorization for the overtime.

A memo was sent to all employees with their paycheck this past week that clarified the county's comp time policy.

Fair labor standards state that comp time is earned after an employee has worked 40 hours in a week, Maggard said. This means if an employee takes vacation or sick leave, he/she cannot earn comp time.

County policy requires employees to use comp time within 90 days but there have been some instances where employees have not adhered to the policy. Maggard said there are some employees who never use comp time and after 240 hours is earned, the county is obligated to pay them instead of giving them paid time off.

A list of employees and the amount of accumulated comp time was distributed. The commission expressed concerns about the hours racked up by a few employees.

Tracking the time is difficult, Maggard said, and should not be the clerk's office responsibility.

"It should be the supervisor's responsibility," Maggard said, to keep track of employees' time and make sure time is taken within 90 days.

Another county policy states if an employee does not use vacation time within a specific time and does not ask for an extension, that time is lost. The commission, with the absence of commissioner Randy Dallke, noted that comp time should be handled the same way.

In other business:

— A new lawnmower is needed for the courthouse square. Maggard asked the commission for direction regarding the purchase of a new mower with more maneuverability or contracting the yard work.

After some discussion, it was determined that she was to get price estimates for a new mower and contracted service.

— Shingles have been coming off the courthouse roof and need to be replaced. Maggard presented an estimate from Flory Roofing and Construction of Halstead for $725. The company had made other repairs on the courthouse in the past. The repairs also will include the caulking of some windows.

— Approximately 300 letters will be mailed to landowners and renters within a five-mile radius of a bridge between Remington and Sunflower roads, on the Marion/Dickinson county line.

A public meeting will be at noon June 2 at Ramona Senior Center to hear public comment regarding the removal or upgrade of the bridge.

— The commission was reminded by Maggard to review a sample survey as part of the county's renewal of its strategic plan. Holub said he was concerned about the survey because it doesn't address the "real" issues like reasons for population decreases which could be attributed to the increase in fuel prices.

— The commission signed a pay increase for the county attorney's secretary that was approved at the last meeting. Suzanne Robinson was given a 50-cent per hour raise which will give her an increase from $1,804 per month to $1,885.

Travis Wilson has been hired as a sheriff's deputy at a starting wage of $2,394 per month.

— Groundwater sampling at the former landfill that was to be done May 2 was postponed until Thursday.