Mills and Quorum Court address comp time

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Tribune News Staff

The regular business at the Poinsett County's Quorum Court's regular April business meeting Monday night took less time than a rehash of the county's policies concerning comp time which was brought up by Sheriff Larry Mills after the scheduled business was concluded.

"I wasn't here last month and every time I'm gone it seems like this issue of comp time comes up again and I get blind-sided by Justice Blackwood," Mills began when he took the floor. "I think it's time we get this settled and lay the issue to rest."

What Mills was referring to was the personnel meeting last month in which justices brought up the fact that the comp time of the sheriff's department compared to other county departments.

Mills went on to say that the law states that dispatchers are allowed to work only 40 hours per week and then go to time and one-half. Jailers and certified law enforcement officers are at 43 hours per week, then they go to overtime.

"In the past, if a person had to work on holidays, they got a comp day," Mills said. "Anyway, some time ago, I talked with the judge about this and he expressed concern over the comp times being different in the two departments. Well, I think the road department needs to be on the same playing field with the sheriff's office. If we don't I think we're going to run into some problems at some point."

Mills then said that according to the policy manual, county employees get 11 paid holidays per year.

"My question is are these paid holidays included in our salaries or are they not," Mills said. "I don't know if that's even written anywhere. But I think it's something the Court needs to address. If they're not in our salary we need to be compensated for them. I think we need to pay our people."

Mills said that compared to the road department, the sheriff's department had excessive comp time.

"But, you have to remember that we are a 24 hour a day operation," Mills said. "We don't close our doors at 4:30. We're on duty all the time for anything that comes up. Since this is the case, I think we have to compensate our people."

Mills then said he had discussed the issue with the county's legal council, Ralph Ohm, and found that law enforcement employees are treated differently than other county employees and had to be reimbursed for any back pay over 240 hours of comp time.

The real problem in the situation, according to Mills, is paying employees who are not working on holidays a comp time day as well as those employees who are required to work.

"If we continue this there's no incentive for someone to work when others are getting comp days for being off," Mills said.

Justices then decided to have a meeting prior to next month's regular meet to address the issue the sheriff brought up.

Other business included:

*Passing a resolution in support of reinstatement of the Byrne Grant to help in fighting illegal drugs in the state,

*Amending the Sheriff's Department policy manual to reflect the use of video equipment in patrol cars.

*Reminding the people of a countywide cleanup on April 29.

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