By Gary Nelson
Cumberland County’s budget committee plans to request department heads of the county’s top five departments with the most amount of comp time hours attend the panel’s March monthly meeting to discuss the matter.
Last month the committee asked Nathan Brock, finance director, to examine comp time (compensatory time) figures and the personnel policy and come back to the committee with a recommendation for the future of the county’s comp time policy.
Comp time is when a county employee works more than 40 hours per week and earns extra hours. For each hour over 40, an employee earns 1.5 hours. Those extra hours can then be taken off with pay, or paid out to the employee.
Governmental bodies are allowed to let employees build up comp time hours past a one-week period, where private enterprise can not.
Harry Sabine, budget committee chairperson and 1st District commissioner, said, “I think the best thing to do about comp time at this point is to have the department heads come in and explan why they so much time built up and see if there is a way it can be used.”
Mike Harvel, 7th District commissioner, said, “I think that is a great idea. Let them explain why it’s so high.”
Allen Foster, 4th District commissioner asked, “What’s the maximum again on that?”
Brock said up to 240 hours per employee, per year is allowable by federal law. Emergency department employees may be allowed up to 480 hours per year.
“Until we hear the other side of the story, we don’t know what the reasoning or answers are. I think the first step should be to hear from them and their side of story, then we can build on a solution based on that to come up with something fair as far as a policy goes. You can try to find out how come they have that much and how come it has not been reduced,” Brock said.
Sabine said, “I like the idea of having the top five by the amount of hours come in. OK? We’ll have top five departments come in in the March meeting.”
The committee unanimously agreed without taking a vote.
Jeff Brown, 8th District commissioner, asked, “Nathan are any of these something we can get into trouble with? For having too much?”
Brock said, “Not that I’m aware of. The ones to be concerned with are the ones that have not reduced the amount, or changed. For example, mine build up hours during budget time and then burn it down to where it’s manageable after. My concern would be where there is a number that never changes. It might be unfair for me to say the finance office is the way to do it, though, without knowing the circumstances of the other departments.”
Jan McNeil, 5th District commissioner, asked, “Are you aware of any employees that have more than 240 or 480 hours?”
“None that I’m aware of,” Brock replied.
The finance department included a sheet of total comp time hours per department. The top five totals were Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department — 15,282 hours; Cumberland County Building Maintenance — 579.75; Cumberland County Election Commission — 457.50 hours; Community Complex — 398 hours; Cumberland County Fire Department — 338 hours.
The top five department heads requested to come to March’s budget meeting are Cumberland County Sheriff Butch Burgess, Cumberland County Building Maintenance Manager Steve Lewis, Cumberland County Election Commissioner Suzanne Smith, Cumberland County Community Complex Manager Donnie Moody and Cumberland County Fire Chief and EMS Director Jeff Dodson.
In other areas, the committee approved sending out its annual budget preparation request letter to all departments. The committee plans on holding an all-day budget meeting to review county departmental budget requests for fiscal year 2014-’15.
The committee also gave General Sessions Judge Larry Warner permission to apply for a drug court grant.