The Woodward News

November 5, 2013

Raise to include election board officers

Rowynn Ricks
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — Woodward County Commissioners decided Monday that they don't want election board officers left out of county raises again.

During their Oct. 21 meeting, the county commissioners approved a 2 percent cost of living pay raise for almost all county employees as part of the county's $4.2 million budget for FY 2013-2014.

While the raise didn't include the county's elected officials, the commissioners had intended for all other county employees to receive the pay increase.

But during their latest meeting on Monday, the commissioners learned that wasn't the case for the 2 salaried employees at the Woodward County Election Board.

District 1 County Commissioner Tommy Roedell said he didn't realize that the election board secretary and chief clerk were not included in that increase.

"When we gave the raises in the budget, I assumed they were included," Roedell said.

However, County Clerk Charolett Waggoner explained that since the election board officials "are paid differently," their salaries had not been adjusted along with everyone else's.

Waggoner said that the election officials' salaries are determined by the State Election Board, which also reimburses the county for the election board secretary's salary.  Because of this, she said for many years the election board officers didn't receive raises along with the other county officers.

"But back in 2011 the State Election Board said that counties could supplement election board officials' pay," she said.

So in 2011, Waggoner said the county commissioners approved supplementing the election board secretary position with an additional $500 per month and the chief clerk position with another $450 per month.

She said these increases were made to offset the fact that neither position had received a raise from the state in 6 years.

No cost of living increases were approved by the county in 2012, Waggoner said, so there wasn't a question of whether to increase the election board member's salaries until this year when commissioners approved the 2 percent raise for other county workers.

The Woodward County Election Board then wrote a letter to the county commissioners, in which they asked for "clarification as to whether the election board should receive the cost of living raises with the other Woodward County employees."

After the commissioners indicated that they had not intended to exclude the election board officials, they acted quickly to resolve the matter once and for all.

"I make a motion that thy be treated as Woodward County employees and that they receive raises now and anytime in the future that any other county employees receive raises," Roedell said.

District 3 Commissioner Vernie Matt quickly seconded and the motion passed unanimously with a vote of approval from District 2 Commissioner Randy Johnson.



COMPUTER ASSISTED APPRAISALS

Also on Monday, the county board approved a service contract between the Woodward County Assessor's Office and Visual Lease Services, Inc. for the use of a Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal (CAMA) system.

While the Assessor's Office has utilized Visual Lease Services for gas and oil appraisals for many years, County Assessor Misty Dunn said this would be the first time her office would contract for other appraisals.

Dunn said her office has been using the state's system, "which is about 22 years old."

In comparison, she said the Visual Lease Services' CAMA system makes use of new technology to create a more efficient appraisal process.

"It's more of a cloud, Internet based system instead of the state system," she said.

Because of this, she said that her agents "can do their work in the field, drawing the sheds and new houses straight into the system.  Which will save a lot of time and possibly mistakes between what they see out there and what we see when they bring the information back to the office."

In addition, by making use of wireless capabilities, she said the new CAMA system, used on iPads, will allow agents to "go out and take photos and have them upload right to our office, where before they would spend 2 days just downloading photos from their cameras."

"With this new system, they can take an iPad out and do everything," Dunn said.  "We will have to purchase an iPad though.  And we may have to look at a wireless router box in the county vehicle for those areas where wireless is not available."

However, the county assessor believes that overall the new CAMA system will be more efficient and cost effective.

There is an initial set up fee of $6,000, along with an annual users fee of $9,000 for her whole office, Dunn said.  However, even at the first year cost of $15,000, she said the Visual Lease Services price was a lot less expensive than other companies.

"The $9,000 a year is really reasonable compared to what other companies charge," she said.  "There's a company called Patriot that Garfield County is using, which costs about $30,000.  And there's another company that I can't remember the name of that some other counties use and it costs more than Patriot."

Currently Texas County is the only other county in the area that is using the Visual Lease Services CAMA system, but Dunn said "Texas County says it works great."

"I feel like since the technology is available, we need to take advantage of it," Dunn said.  "If we were to continue doing it as we do now, it's not fair to the taxpayers. This will be much more efficient."



OTHER BUSINESS

In other business Monday morning, the county once again tabled a request from the Mutual Fire Department to dispose of a fire unit by selling it at auction.

Commissioner Johnson said the paperwork given to the county didn't have the correct serial number for the 1987 Chevrolet one-ton pickup that the Mutual firefighters are looking to sell.  So he made a motion to table the matter until the information was corrected.

Routine items were also addressed including the approval of several blanket purchase orders and approving the maximum monthly highway expenditures for November in the amount of $240,453.64, which gives each highway district "about $80,000 apiece," Commissioner Matt said.

Under new business, the commissioners approved the appointment of Ron Potts as the District 1 receiving officer to replace Dean Hensley who retired.