BONIFAY — Holmes County Board of County Commissioners held a special session on Monday, Feb. 18 to discuss personnel policies and to appoint a new member of the Holmes County Development Commission after the recent resignation of Benny Little.
The Board approved of Commissioner Bill Parish’s nomination of Diane Little to replace Benny Little.
“The real purpose for this special session was to establish a new member as quickly as possible,” said Parish.
HCDC Chairman Bud Riviere came before the board with a request.
“We would appreciate it if you would review our criteria when you consider appointing new members,” said Riviere.
His requested criteria included progressive leadership qualities, an ambitious entrepreneurial spirit, have a commitment to at least 10 meetings, understanding of economic development, support local businesses on a regional perspective, excellent public relations, a mind to advertise Holmes County as a unique entity, be a team player, a long term commitment and a general knowledge of Regional/State/Federal funding opportunities.
“How many more resignations do you anticipate in the near future?” asked Board Chairman Monty Merchant.
Riviere said that he got word of at least three more upcoming resignations.
The board then discusses their Paid Time Off Policy and possible universal disciplinary actions.
“Once again I stress that consistency is the key,” said County Attorney Jeff Goodman. “To stay within the guidelines of our union contract it will have to be progressive.”
After much discussion, the board concluded that the universal disciplinary action would be that the first offence would be a written warning, the second would be the equivalent of a week off without pay and if there is a third violation within a 12-month span then the last disciplinary action would be termination.
After much more discussion Goodman said he would be able to adjust it so that after that 12 month period it doesn’t simply reset itself and that the written warning would be good for up to two years and if someone should violate the PTO Policy shortly within that two-year period then it would be an automatic second warning of a week off without pay.
“Due to the fact that many departments have different hours in which they work a week I’ll be sure to write it up so that no matter the department the amount of hours off without pay will equal a week,” said Goodman.
The board approved of Goodman drafting a policy to be approved at the next meeting.
The board also approved of a new and more detailed overtime request form.
“This isn’t for disciplinary purposes,” said Merchant. “This is just for a more detailed account for our records.”
County Commissioner David Whitaker asked if it was within the policy that employees could take their two mandatory 15-minute breaks and combine them with their mandatory 30-minute lunch to create an hour lunch break.
“They’ve got the right to the periods but you’ve also got the right to restrict the times,” said Goodman.
Parish agreed that every district should be in compliance with the contract for the strict 15-minute break in the morning, 30-minute lunch and 15-minute break in the afternoon.
Whitaker also asked if employees should be using county vehicles to get breakfast and lunch.
“Personally I don’t think they should be using county equipment for personal use,” said Parish.
Goodman advised that if their employees were “on your clock and on your equipment then you’re liable for a lawsuit.”
The board agreed that county equipment should never be used for personal use and that they should get with their foremen about cracking down on company policies and set strict guidelines, especially in the area of disciplinary action, breaks and use of county equipment.
“We’ll have to up our transponder tracking surveillance to make sure we’ve got it documented on where they’re going with our county equipment and for how long,” said Commissioner Bobby Sasnett.
Goodman said that, at the board’s request, he was setting up a time to have a meeting with representatives from Walton, Jackson, Santa Rosa and Bay Counties in March.
Parish had suggested this at a previous meeting, stating it might be beneficial to the county to “bounce around” ideas with other counties and “see how they run things” to widen their possibilities.
Merchant asked that the board consider if they want to renew their contract with C.W. Roberts or if they want to start putting projects out for bid.
“We still need striping from Highway 81 to the Walton County line,” said Merchant.
The board agreed to think on the matter.
County Engineer Cliff Knauer informed the board that the Department of Environmental Protection was offering money to Water Management for Restore Act money for the outside coastal counties.
“We need a list of roads for a storm water project or a road paving improvement to sediment, also known as a top of hill to top of hill project,” said Knauer. “We need it by tomorrow.”
After much discussion, the commissioners came up with Coach Road, North and South Ride, Lake Victor Road, Old Mt. Zion Road and the rest of Creek Road.
“We’ve got a grant already to pave Creek Road from County Road 181 to the top of the hill,” said Knauer. “We’ll just submit the rest of the road.”
To be sure that they can get in as much as possible, Knauer said he’d submit the roads provided by the commissioners as “Priority Roads” and then submit the rest of the roads on the Rural Road Work Project list just so if they were able to get more money they might get more roads fixed.
“This way they won’t run out of projects for us any time soon,” said Knauer. “This could be a great opportunity for us.”
The next regularly scheduled meeting is set for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 26 in the commissioner’s chambers beside the Holmes County Court House.