The Woodward News

Local News

July 8, 2014

County officials approve pay policy

Woodward, Okla. — Woodward County Commissioners tackled a long and detailed agenda Monday during their weekly meeting.

The agenda listed nearly 20 items and included the approval of a policy regarding how first deputies in all departments are to be paid, the renewal of the Health Department contracts and the reappointment of two locals to the Woodward County Public Facilities Authority.

The first deputy pay policy issue sparked a spirited debate among the commissioners about how best to retain experienced, quality staff in Woodward County and still be fair to all first deputies in the county.

According to District 1 County Commissioner Tommy Roedell a recent decision on the part of the District 2 County Commissioner Randy Johnson to pay his first deputy a salary instead of by the hour could possibly cause bad feelings on the part of other county first deputies from all the other departments.

Citing the county's past conformance with a uniform "tradition" of paying all non-elected county employees by the same, hourly formula, Roedell requested the Board of Commissioners vote on a policy requiring county officers to officially adhere to that standard.

Johnson, who defended his legal right to pay his foreman more and on a salaried basis, said his foreman's base salary is only on average $373.94 higher than the base pay of the other foremen in District 1 and 3.

Johnson noted his foreman does not get paid any overtime because he is salaried.

"Your foreman makes 20 hours of overtime most of the time," Johnson said to Roedell , as the two discussed the issue.  "When you consider that overtime, it's pretty close, what they make."

Johnson also argued that his foreman agreed to a salaried wage, for which he knew he would not get paid overtime, because the higher base wage is what retirement benefits are figured upon and that was his goal rather than earning more through overtime pay.

"It's the whole issue...he took a pay cut to come here and I am going to support him in this," Johnson said. "My employee wants his hours worked to count toward his retirement and they don't figure retirement benefits on overtime, only the base wage."

Johnson suggested that if there are ill feelings over his foreman making more than the others, then the others should be given raises instead of penalizing his foreman.

"I believe I am within my legal rights to do this," Johnson said.

Nevertheless, Roedell said he felt it was not fair to treat one county first deputy employee different from all of the other county first deputies.

"I don't believe is proper to give an individual a pay raise and not the others," Roedell said. "It can cause a lot of problems."

Other county department heads were present in the meeting, including Woodward County Sheriff Gary Stanley and Woodward County Treasurer Sonya Coleman. Both agreed that one county employee should not be paid differently than the others, even though state and federal labor laws allow for it.

After the discussion, Roedell made the motion that all county foremen be paid according to the same rate formula and by the hour. He added that if the motion carried, it should also be made retroactive to correct or adjust the pay for the employee who had been being paid a higher salaried base wage.

The motion was seconded by District 3 Commissioner Vernie Matt. Johnson voted against the measure.

Also related to pay issues, commissioners unanimously voted to have their pay taken from the general fund to free up money in each of the three highway districts for needed equipment and materials throughout the year.

The resolution will be retroactive to July 1st through June 30, 2015, according to District 1 Commissioner Tommy Roedell.

Commissioners approved agreements for detention services between Woodward County and its own contract provider of those services, Eastern Oklahoma Youth Services, Inc., for the operation and maintenance of the juvenile facility located near the Airport Industrial Park.

The rate paid by Woodward County, should they need the space, is $23.25 per child. It is established by the Oklahoma Juvenile Authority, according to the facility's director, Brian Newton.

An agreement was also renewed between Woodward County and Muskogee Youth Services for bed space when the Woodward facility is full. Their rate is $23.27 per child, according to the agreement.

Formerly serving the Woodward County Facilities Authority, both Woodward Police Chief Harvey Rutherford and former Oklahoma Representative Elmer Maddux were reappointed to the board Monday. The Woodward County Facilities Authority acts as an oversight board for the bond issue related to the Woodward County Jail.

Commissioners acted on the recommendation of Melanie Matt, executive director for the Woodward County Extension Service and approved the rental space agreement between the county and Gary Whitcomb for the north end of the old Whitcomb Lumber building. The building is west of Woodward, north of the UPS office, Matt said.

Matt and her entire extension service office have been "homeless" since a fire, likely brought on by an electrical storm more than a week ago, destroyed much of their temporary office at the Woodward Middle School.

The Woodward County Extension Service was temporarily housing the operation in the school while an Expo Center at the Woodward County Fairgrounds is being constructed.

"We have considered several locations and we have decided we need to be in the old Whitcomb Lumber building," Matt said.

According to Matt, the location serves their needs as well as the good price, $800 per month, which was the least expensive she could find in the entire area. Commissioners approved the contract, which will be good through June of 2015, according to District 3 Commissioner, Vernie Matt.

In routine business, commissioners approved the monthly maximum highway expenditures for July in the amount of $275,291.68 and renewed the annual contract between the county and the Woodward County Health Department.

Commissioners opened sealed bids for the Quinlan water line relocation project. Two bids were received from Ryan Construction of Pond Creek and Cline Consolidated of Woodward. Ryan Construction's bid came in at $260,690 and Cline Consolidated came in at $250,790. The bids were tabled so they could be considered by the Quinlan Water Resources Board.

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