Breckenridge Texan

County Commissioners discuss employee training policy

County Commissioners discuss employee training policy
October 23
08:48 2018

Employee training costs

During their meeting on Monday, Stephens County Commissioners discussed implementing a policy that would require non-elected county employees who attend a training school paid for by the county to continue working for the county for a certain length of time after the training or to reimburse the county for the cost of the training.

“Over the years, we’ve sent people to school, and just as soon as we get through with their schooling, they use it as a stepping stone to go to a bigger town or something like that,” said Precinct 4 Commissioner Rickie Carr. “They get a different job or something like that and they don’t stay long enough to justify us paying $1,500 -$2,500 for whatever schooling they gotta go and get.”

Precinct 1 Commissioner Ed Russell echoed those concerns and said the county then has to hire new employees to replace them and pay to send the new employees for the same training. He said the county needs a policy similar to the one the Department of Public Safety implemented that requires troopers to stay on a certain amount of time after they finish the DPS training academy to keep them from leaving for other police departments immediately after the training.

Commissioners want the policy to set a required time limit on how long an employee must continue working for the county after attending a school at the county’s expense. If they leave before then, they would be required to reimburse the county for the cost of their school, which would be deducted from their final paycheck.

“I think they ought to have to reimburse the county out of their last check if they don’t stay over a year,” said County Judge Gary Fuller.

While no time limit was agreed on during the discussions, several of the commissioners discussed setting the requirement at one year.

“We’d like to be able to get our money back if we pay for somebody’s school and then they decide to leave,” said Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Warren. “In a year’s time, you ought to be able to get your money back out of somebody.”

Following the discussion, commissioners tabled the proposal until their next meeting on Nov. 12 so they could research what kind of policies other counties have in place and discuss the issue with the county attorney.

“We need to find out what other counties are doing and then check with the county attorney and see what Stephens County can do,” Carr said.

Election Security Assessment

Also during the meeting on Monday, commissioners approved a Global Interlocal Contract between Stephens County and the Department of Information Resources for the State of Texas to provide a security assessment of the county’s election system.

Stephens County Tax Assessor-Collector Christie Latham, who is the county’s election coordinator, told commissioners the assessment is not required but is strongly recommended by the Secretary of State.

She said they will eventually send out a crew to watch what the county elections employees do and evaluate the security portion of the process. She said they will then advise them on areas where the county is lacking in security.

In order for the evaluation to take place, Latham said, the county first has to have an interlocal agreement with Department of Information Resources. According to Latham, the funds to pay for the assessment will come from the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), a federal program that assists states with HAVA compliance.

“It will not cost us anything,” Latham said.  “Now, if they make some recommendations, then that’s another matter. They haven’t decided whether or not we’ll have help fixing the problem.”

Health Authority

Commissioners also voted to reappoint Dr. William Prater as the Health Authority for Stephens County. Fuller said each county is required to have a health officer available in case of an outbreak in the county or consultation on other health issues that might arise in the county.

October 9 meeting

During their Oct. 9 meeting, commissioners approved a lease agreement with Trans Aero Medevac for a landing pad at the Stephens County Airport. The company will locate and operate an air ambulance helicopter at the airport beginning this month.

They also approved the purchase of a new backhoe for the county. The cost of the tractor will be between $80,000 and $90,000 and will be shared between the county’s four precincts.

Sheriff Will Holt also reported to commissioners that three old sheriff patrol vehicles the county had sold at the Rene Bates auction in Dallas for $14,500, which he said was about three times the amount they would have received if they had sold the vehicles with sealed bids in the county.

Holt said commissioner’s court had agreed to use the money from the sale of the old vehicles toward paying off the lease on the three new patrol vehicles the Sheriff Department is currently leasing.


Story by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: During Monday’s County Commissioners meeting, Stephens County Tax Assessor-Collector Christie Latham (left) discusses the details of an interlocal contract with the Department of Information Resources to provide security assessment of the county’s election system. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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