Woodward, Okla. —
County officers reviewed and suggested changes to the 2012 to 2013 Employee Personnel Policy Handbook during a county commission meeting Monday.
None of the changes were officially approved Monday, as county commissioners plan to review the handbook with the recommended revisions again next week on Aug. 6.
The handbook is a set of rules county employees must abide by which is set forth by the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma and the State Auditor's Office.
County officers present to discuss the handbook included the board of commissioners, Clerk Charolett Waggoner, Treasurer Sonya Coleman, Assessor Mistie Dunn, Sheriff Gary Stanley, and Court Clerk-elect Tammy Roberts.
Vacation and Sick Leave
The officers discussed vacation leave which will now be accrued monthly rather than at an hourly rate. Also, sick leave will be tracked per hour rather than by days or half days.
Tommy Roedell, District No. 1 county commissioner, said using this method of sick leave will allow the county to keep better track of how much sick leave an employee is using. For instance, if an employee goes to see the doctor for 2 hours and comes back to work, it will be better documented, he said.
Currently, county employees are allowed 45 days of sick leave (360 hours) to carry over and 5 days (40) hours of vacation time to carry over.
The officers are proposing to change the handbook so employees will have 480 hours of accumulated sick leave and 120 hours of accumulated vacation leave, less than the Association of County Commissioners recommends, which is 720 hours of accumulated sick leave and 480 hours of accumulated vacation leave - the same as state employees.
County officials felt the recommended numbers were too high for their budget.
Since vacation time will begin to accrue monthly, once the handbook is reviewed again and approved commissioners agreed the policies would then go into effect on Sept. 1, 2012.
Another change made included paying employees on military leave. Stanley said currently the policy is to pay those employees the full rate of pay up to 30 days of absence. The military is also paying them during this time, he said.
Stanley suggested that if the military pays an employee less than what they make working for the county during their time of leave, that the county should reimburse them the difference. If the military meets the pay or pays more, the county should not have to pay them during that leave of absence.
For example, if an employee usually makes $500 per paycheck from the county and only receives $400 from the military while on leave for 2 weeks, under Stanley's suggestion, the county would reimburse the employee $100. However, if the military pays the employee over $500, the county would not have to pay the employee while they were on leave, he suggested.
Additional Handbook Changes
Some minor changes were also suggested to officially designate a person(s) to handle certain situations. For example, in the event that a county employee wanted information about health insurance, the county commissioner's secretary or the payroll clerk would be designated to handle that particular situation.
In the event that the courthouse needed to be closed, such as bad weather or a threat, the county commission chairman would be designated to make that decision. The vice chair would be designated as the next person in the chain of command to make that decision.
In the event that an employee makes a complaint and the employee is not satisfied with the response from the head of their department, the board of commissioners would be designated to handle the concern.
Roedell said he would also like to delete some of the items in the handbook that had been repeated. One of the items included deleting an item that acknowledges the rules regarding using county cell phones for personal use.
Previously in the handbook it had stated the county had the right to monitor or access communications devises without giving notice to the employee. Roedell said by reading the guideline, employees had acknowledged the rule and therefore do not need another item telling to acknowledge the rule again.
Also during the county commissioners meeting, one public hearing was held and a new one was set. The public hearing held was for a request form Vernon Stricker to close a portion of a county road in District No. 3.
The road is located west of Woodward close to a portion of EW39 between Sections 30 and 19-T23N-R21W, west of NS 198. A closed railroad crossing sits on a portion of the road causing a dead end when entered from either side.
Sticker was the only person to attend the hearing. Vernie Matt, District No. 3 commissioner, said he has not heard anyone who opposed the road closing so the board approved the request.
The board also set a new public hearing for a request from Justin Howard to rezone property in District No. 3. The property is located in the NW-4 of Section 18-T23N-R20W, north of Woodward off of Highway 34.
The request is to change the zoning from General Agricultural (A-1) to General Commercial (C-2) district. Matt said previously that he thinks Howard wants the land rezoned so it can be used for a trailer park.
The public hearing to discuss the proposed rezoning was set for Aug. 13 during the board's regularly scheduled meeting which begins at 10 a.m. at the Woodward County Courthouse.
Other Agenda Items
A bid through the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) was approved for rejection regarding the resurfacing of portions of N/S 203 in Districts 2 and 3. Matt said only one bid was received for the project and everyone felt it was a little high in price, which is why it was rejected. The project will go out for bid again in November in hopes of receiving more bids, Matt said.
Commissioners also approved the appointment of requisition and receiving officers for the District Attorney's office. Waggoner said some of the officers are the same but have since gotten married and needed to change the names.
All receiving agents for the DA's office include Karla Taylor, Sherry Goodwin, Stacy Tapia, Jane Stanley, Julie Poole and Misty Gonser.
The schedule of Federal Expenditures Report for Fiscal Year 2011 to 2012 was also approved. The report included federal money that came into the county and money the county paid out.
The money came from grants for the Northwest Domestic Crisis Center and money the federal government sent to the county for Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT).
Under new or unforeseen business, the board approved a pay application from Joe D. Hall in the amount of $20,783. The payment due is for the work done on the courthouse entryway.
When asked why the matter was handled under new business, Roedell said the payment for the entryway had been previously approved and part of it had already been paid. Since the item had just been submitted they decided to take care of it under new business, he said.
"It wasn't anything that needed to be put on the agenda," Roedell said.
Also under new business, the board approved the 5-year County Bridge Road Improvement (CBRI) plans prepared through the Circuit Engineering District 8 board which Ted Craighead, District No. 2 commissioner, serves on.
The plan outlines the road and bridge projects planned for the next 5 years regarding transportation functions such as for road maintenance, Craighead said.
Roedell said the CED plan was approved under new business because it's something the CED board had already passed and the county commissioners were not making any changes to it, just acknowledging it.
"It was just an informality," he said.
Also under new business, J.T. Winters, county flood plain administrator, talked to commissioners about a film the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA) will be showing pertaining to the dust bowl of the 1930's.
Winters said OETA will be showing previews of the film across Northwest Oklahoma. The first preview showing will be in Woodward on Aug. 16 at the Conference Center. Other showings will be in Guymon, Altus, Poteau and Stillwater.
Along with the film, there will be an educational program that addresses what will happen if drought conditions persist and how to prevent another dust bowl, Winters said.
Editor's Note: This story was clarified and updated on Aug. 1, 2012 at 11 a.m.