Sheriff’s Office sees increase in comp time

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     It has come to the Board of Supervisors’ attention that some Sheriff’s Department employees are seeing increased comp time balances.

     During the Oct. 30 Jones County Supervisor meeting, the board met with Chief Deputy Jeff Swisher and Jail Administrator Mike Elkin about the issue.

     Swisher said with Elkin teaching the new jail administrator (Tess LeMense) the ropes before his retirement at the end of the year, he’s going to be accruing comp time.

     “It takes mornings, noon and night to cover all of the facets of the job,” Swisher explained. “We’re kind of at an impasse here.”

     Swisher informed the board that Sheriff Greg Graver was also in agreement that this training schedule is important to maintain.

     “It’s important that she get trained,” he added. “We can force him (Elkin) to take days off, but the she’s not getting trained. He wants to make sure she’s trained before she takes over.”

     Supervisor Wayne Manternach asked how Elkin’s comp time got to this point that it’s so high, and how the county could prevent this scenario from happening again. Elkin said it’s rare that his comp time carries over this much at one time.

     He said when he’s sick, he has to use sick time, not comp time, based on the county’s policy. Elkin suggested perhaps the board needed to revise its policy to allow county employees to use comp time more freely.

     “If I was able to use comp time, I wouldn’t be where we’re at now,” Elkin said.

     In addition, Elkin said his job is not a 40-hour a week position. He also steps in if needed during special events such as the fair.

     County Auditor Janine Sulzner explained it’s federal law that the county cannot force an employee to use comp time in place of sick time; that sick time must be used first and foremost.

     And if county employees don’t use all of their comp time, then the county foots the bill and is required to pay any outstanding time.

     Manternach proposed whether the board should be cutting off comp time at 120 hours.

     “The policy says department heads can force employees to use comp time,” said Sulzner.

     Elkin said when certain departments are running thin, “you can only run staff so much before they get burnt out.

     “Administration is also stepping up and working overtime,” he said.

     In addition to Elkin, Swisher said with two deputies out for medical reasons right now, the deputies are also seeing increased comp time.

     “I’ll be in the same boat in about five months,” he said, as Swisher nears retirement as well.

     Swisher said it’s not as though the Sheriff’s Office could just hire anyone to fill the spots; deputies must be under the civil service.

     “And we’re not getting the applications that we used to,” Swisher shared. “Society is different now.”

     Both Swisher and Elkin said the comp time situation as it sits is just timing and would not be a regular occurrence.

In other county business:

     The board heard from Lucia Herman, Community Services director, regarding an increase use of General Assistance burial funds.

     “We’ve had an abundance of funerals since July 1,” she said of the start of the fiscal year.

     While that particular line item is dwindling, Herman said she has funds in the utility assistance line item she can move around in case she needs to cover another burial.

     • The board set a public hearing for the vacation of Bear Road for Tuesday, Nov. 27. Bear Road is a dead-end road located off Skahill Road southeast of Cascade.

     County Engineer Derek Snead said all of the landowners are in agreement to vacate the road.

     • Snead said while 65 percent of the main line paving has been completed on County Road E-45, there is not enough time in his year’s construction season to complete the project.

     The contractor has 18 days before liquidated damages take effect.

     Snead said a portion of the paved road is now open for traffic.

     • With the retirement of an MMIII operator in Secondary Roads, the board approved the posting of the position.



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