Vote set (again) for Crawford County leave time issue

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 70 views 

What started May 23 as a simple ordinance to come before the Crawford County Quorum Court that would have allowed employees to donate accumulated vacation time to co-workers in need has gone nowhere 119 days later.

In that time, personnel committee meetings have been held. There have been public discussions involving members of the committee, the Quorum Court and county workers, some of which have been rather heated. There have been drafted ordinances and canceled votes. But not a single vote since that May 23 meeting.

So what has the hold up been?

According to Justice of the Peace Stanley Clark, who has been leading the charge to implement a policy dictating the donation of leave time for county workers, the proposal spearheaded between him and attorney Chuck Baker, who represents the county, has to be just right and not leave the county open to lawsuits before it can be voted on by the full Court.

The draft of the ordinance, which Stanley provided to The City Wire on Wednesday (Sept. 18), has nearly everything he said the Court has said they want in the ordinance with the exception of one item.

"It doesn't have the 30 day limit," he said. "The Judge (John Hall) wanted that. So Chuck is adding that tot he ordinance."

The 30-day limit would mean a county employee cannot use more than 30 days of donated leave time from a leave time bank that will be established upon passage of the ordinance.

Other items included in the latest draft of the ordinance include:
• The leave time may only be used for catastrophic illness or injury to the employee or an immediate family member requiring the employee to take off three days beyond any of the employee's personally accrued leave time;
• Employees who do not donate at least eight hours to the leave bank are not eligible to take part in the program;
• Unused hours in the leave bank will not be returned to donating employees, but instead will roll over to the following year; and
• Employees wanting to use donated hours to cover "elective" surgeries will be denied under all circumstances unless an unforeseen complication arises as a result of the operation that qualifies as catastrophic.

Also included in the plan is a catastrophic leave committee to determine whether or not to grant the donated leave time to a requesting employee. The committee will consist of one county-wide elected official, one full-time county employee and one citizen of Crawford County who does not either work for the county or hold an elected office with the county.

As for why the ordinance wasn't reviewed before Monday's (Sept. 16) meeting, corrected and brought before the Court at that time for a vote, Clark said it basically boils down to technical problems.

"Mainly just because of computers and we've kind of battened down the hatches on our systems to keep viruses off computers. And anyway, he wasn't able to get it to me and I never saw and by the time I realized what was going on, we just didn't get together."

That is a different story than the one told by Justice of the Peace James Lane, who chairs the personnel committee, on Monday night.

"I don't know. I haven't been talking to Stanley about he's been doing. But it should be obvious to even the most novice observer of political events or occasions or interactions that there's any passion for that policy," he said. "If there were a passion for it, it would have already passed in one of its other iterations. So I mean it's wandering around back there being supported by who knows who and it's going to crop up again."

The ordinance, which Clark said is likely to be voted on at the Oct. 21 meeting (152 days after it first came before the Court), should come back through the personnel committee, Lane said, before the rest of the Court has a voice in it.

"Whether it does or not, it never has before. You know?"