Monday, January 11, 2010

Bosque Growing: Vacation, Holiday bill approaches $.25 mil

County Commissioners got a jarring, grating informal
indication during their Monday meeting that the population
is growing steadily.

According to accounts reckoned by County Treasurer Diana
Wellborn, unpaid compensation owed employees for vacation,
sick leave, compensatory time for working days off and
uncollected pay for working holidays is at the level of a
whopping $210,474.84.

"This is the amount we will pay, plus the hours they worked
that pay period, if they terminate employment," she stated
in a report prepared for County Judge Cole Word and the four
commissioners. "There are some large amounts that I think
you should be aware of."

The largest amount owed employees of a single department is
$102,279.69 for accumulated unpaid sick leave, vacation pay,
comp time and holiday pay.

The remedy?

"There is a snowball effect," said Sheriff Anthony Malott.
"If you give one the time off, you just have to pay another
to work it."

"It's pretty much a wash, isn't it?" Judge Word commented.

"Yeah, and that's because we're a 24-hour a day, 365 day a
year agency. That's why," replied the Sheriff.

"When this next (2010) census comes out, we're going to see
that our population has gone up by at least 4,000 to 5,000,"
declared Commissioner Alton K. Harbison.

It's a unique county...Our population grows Thursday through
Sunday," said Judge Word.

The panel immediately began to argue pro or con on whether
the population census will show an increase. Some feel that
since the population influx is represented by weekending
visitors to hunting camps, fishing cottages and retirement
homes, there will be no net increase in population. Others
hold that there will be a sizable increase in total
population when the census return is final.

Some recalled that when a similar situation developed in the
nineties, the Sheriff sent his deputies home for weeks until
the accounts were balanced.

"This all grew out of a commitment made in the last
administration that there would be no less than two deputies
on duty 24 hours a day," said Commissioner Harbison.

"We don't have the personnel to have two deputies on 24
hours a day," replied Sheriff Malott. The department employs
19 sworn peace officers.

The Sheriff and others shook their heads as they
contemplated the notion of two deputies covering disaster,
crime and emergencies from the lakeshore to Cranfills Gap
and as far away as Iredell to Valley Mills.

Amounts owed employees of other departments range from a
zero sum owed to 220th District Judge James Morgan and
Emergency Services Coordinator Dewey Ratliff to as high as a
total of $18,523.52 in benefits pay due to David L. Pack of
the Sheriff's Department.

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