County Commission grapples with contracts to assure payment for supplementary staff for Sheriff’s Department

In a meeting which featured approval of routine business matters, the Monday, September 13, 2021 regular County Commission meeting, spent considerable time discussing two agreements for payment of Sheriff’s Department staff.

These agreements for payment of School Resources Officers and supplemental staff for the Sheriff’s Department are for the coming fiscal year, beginning October 1, 2021, were negotiated by a committee including Commission Chair Rashonda Summerville, CFO, Macelroy Underwood and Atty. Mark Parnell, County Legal Counsel.

The agreement for School Resource Officers was negotiated with the Greene County Board of Education and requires direct payment to the County Commission for officers in the schools. The Board must deposit two months of salaries in advance with the Commission to pay these employees, who provide safety in the schools.

The agreement for supplementary staff for the Sheriff’s Department, which requires a three month’s advance payment to restore these employees to the Commission’s payroll, benefits plan and liability insurance coverage, generated significant discussion. The Sheriff employed a number of staff beyond his approved budget to handle law enforcement, jail and electronic bingo supervision.

The Sheriff was supposed to reimburse the County Commission for these additional expenditures during the current 2020-2021 fiscal year, out of funds he received from monthly bingo machine fees. The Sheriff did not pay all of these past staff expenses, dating back several fiscal years. In response the Commission ceased paying these additional staff and the Sheriff continued to pay them as contracted employees.

Mac Underwood said, “We wanted to bring all these staff back under the Commission’s payroll and insurance benefits for fairness and safety reasons. This is why we negotiated this payment arrangement. If the Sheriff does not put up the three months advance funds, then we will once again have to cut off these employees.”

District 1 Commissioner Lester Brown asked about the past monies the Sheriff owes the Commission for salaries paid to his staff but not reimbursed. “Did you give him a waiver on the past due monies? When will we receive these monies?” asked Brown.

Underwood said, “This agreement is for going forward starting October 1, with the new fiscal year. We will have a separate negotiation with the Sheriff on the past due funds owed. The Sheriff has paid some of these funds, there was a period in the Spring of 2020 when bingo was closed down, and we will have to calculate and agree on exactly what is owed back to the Commission and make a plan, with the agreement of the Sheriff for repayment.”

Commission Brown said, “I do not trust the Sheriff to pay this money back. I hope we get the three months advance payment before we put his staff back on the payroll.” Commissioner Brown and Tennyson Smith voted against approval of the budget supplement agreement. Commissioners Cockrell, Turner and Summerville voted in favor and the proposal was adopted.

The Commission approved a request for $26,652.50 for E-911 to purchase radio equipment for their new building from the county’s American Rescue Plan Act allocation.

The Commission agreed to spend $23,000, with a matching contribution of $20,000 from ALDOT, for the HRRR project for guide rails on two bridges on County Roads 133 and 199. These funds will come from the Capital Improvement Fund, supported by bingo revenues. The Engineer was authorized to grade a quarter mile off County Road 11 for the State of Alabama. The Engineer was also authorized to provide technical assistance to the Board of Education and to advertise for two temporary positions.

In other business, the Greene County Commission:

• Approved advertising for a Real Property Clerk (Revenue), Appraisal Trainee (Apprisal), and a License Clerk (Probate Office).

• Ratified a contract with BCBS for 2021-2022 for health insurance for employees.

• Approved a proposal from the Alabama Department of Youth Services for Long Term Detention, at no cost to the county.

•Approved a contract with Digital Information Systems for $25,628 for IT services.

• Approved the schedule of county employees beginning October 4, 2021 and allowed employees to carry over unused vacation time from December 2021 to April 2022.

• Appointed Walter Beck to the Water Authority Board.

Macelroy Underwood, CFO reported that the county had paid $456,157 in claims for August and September, including an additional $76,012 in electronic claims paid. He reported $5,045,515 in deposit accounts in Citizens Trust Bank, $4,177,157 in Merchants and Farmers Bank, for a total of $9,222,673 in banks as of July 21,2021. He also reported $1,092,638 in bond sinking funds and $450,175 in the Bank of New York for payment of bonds.

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