Commissioners Court Approve Agreement With TxDOT For Timber Creek Road Bridge Replacement
Hopkins County Commissioners Court approved an agreement with Texas Department of Transportation for replacement Timber Creek Road bridge, and personnel policy changes giving elected officials options regarding how county employees’ time is reported, amount given for out-of-town travel, inclement weather pay and date certain holidays are observed.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Price noted that the advanced funding agreement with TxDOT will allow the county to apply $14,000 worth of culvert replacement work recently completed toward the matching portion of funding the county is required to provide for the narrow Timber Creek Road bridge in Pleasant Grove community to be replaced. The county is responsible for $41,000 of the cost, so that leaves about $27,000 the county will still have to meet. The rest of the cost to replace the bridge will be covered by the state.
Personnel Policy Changes
County officials also approved after discussion a personnel policy which would require county employees to use the designated electronic time clock to clock in and out of work during to reflect the work day or, if the elected official for the department chooses, their employees may complete a time sheet, which the employee would sign. Time sheets would not be brought or sent to the auditor’s office; the elected official would enter them into the system, which would the auditor’s office receive eletronically.
“Basically this addresses that the employees are to clock in and out on UKG system. If they are not clocking in and out, we are going to need a signed time sheet from them, because those are governmental documents and, if they’re not clocking in and out, they’re providing their hours to their elected official, the elected official is putting their time in, then the employee may not know what time is going in,” Aulsbrook said.
County Clerk Tracy Smith noted that the time clock doesn’t give a minute to minute time, but more in 5 minute increments. For instance, if one of the employees in her office arrive a few minutes early and see someone already waiting at the door for service, she will usually go ahead and help that individual instead of keeping them waiting. So instead of 7:57 a.m., the clock might show 7:55 a.m. The same would apply if someone came in later in the afternoon and it took until a few minutes after the end of the business day to complete the service they sought.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Mickey Barker asked if the county could get with the contact for the system to adjust the time to minutes. Aulsbrook said county officials could contact them regarding that issue.
Aulsbrook said the information on the time clock would be sent automatically to the auditor’s office so no paper copies are required. Having the information available in the system would make it easier when it comes time to account for hours for grant purposes. Recently, that’d be amounts of funding the county would receive in COVID funding for certain employees or time spent on COVID related purposes. When the employee clock in or out, it is considered their written signature for time worked. In instances where time sheets are used, there needs to be documentation of those hours signed by the employee in order to get funding.
Judge Robert Newsom pointed out that due to the varied nature of the fire department and sheriff’s office employees, the policy was drafted leaving it up to the elected official for each department how their employees should record their time, clocking in or out.
Chief Deputy Tanner Crump noted that due to the varied nature of the sheriff’s office employee, it would be beneficial to have a policy that allows the elected official to choose whether the employee uses electronic or paper to log hours. The department has patrol deputies who work shift work, clerical staff, investigations who work even different schedules than patrol officers, as well as others.
Sheriff Lewis Tatum pointed out that even among secretarial staff, there’s a need for varied forms of reporting. For instance, one secretary may work only 6-7 hour days while another’s schedule varies as she attends meetings he doesn’t want to attend at night in his place. She would have a tremendous amount of overtime, and the flexibility of paying mechanism would assist the department in reporting and track that.
Tatum said he investigators may get busy and not think to log in, if say they go directly from lunch to work. He said they often never know where the day or a case will take them or when.
The system, Precinct 1 Commissioner Mickey Barker said, tracks all of the employees accumulated vacation and personal time accrued and used.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Wade Bartley pointed out that his precinct workers use manual cards because they do not have internet out there to login and out electronically, and his guys like the paper time sheets.
Price said he is more likely to use a computer at his office at the courthouse where he has connectivity than out at the barn or work site. He said he’s happy to use paper time sheets. With the way the crews work, they may not have a 20 or 30 minute lunch break. They may sit in the truck waiting for their part of a project, and only get 15 minutes before they have to get back to it.
Aulsbrook noted they could use paper time sheets, but the elected official would need to enter that information, which is then sent to her office electronically.
Three other changes were made to the county personnel policy manual.
One personnel policy change is written documentation that part time employees would be paid if they are told to stay home instead of reporting for duty due to inclement weather or other emergency situations. There was no provision in the policy prior to this draft regarding part time employee pay in bad weather and emergency situations in which the work day is canceled.
A second personnel policy change is to the amount per day allocated for trave.
“The travel policy will change the per diem to $60 a day and $40 a day for out-of-town travel,” Aulsbrook said.
The final change to personnel policy change as noted would allow an elected official to choose if they want to take a holiday after the actual holiday. For instance, that might occurred at the tax office for voting purposes, if a holiday falls during designated or required early voting days. Employees could take the day on the date immediately following the holiday, per the new policy.
Other Action Items
The Commissioners Court also approved as part of the consent agenda minutes from five previous regular meetings, five work sessions and one special session; as well as a request from Farmers Electric Cooperative Inc., for a permit for a service order.
The court also agreed to payment of bills, revenues and expenses, payroll and financial statements presented since the last meeting.