March 5, 2013 10:27:32 AM
Carl Smith - firstname.lastname@example.org
County supervisors stalemated on two votes Monday surrounding a payroll change request for a tax office employee which emerged during closed session.
Following a 20-minute executive session on the matter with Oktibbeha County Tax Assessor Allen Morgan and attorney Russ Rogers, the board first tied 2-2 to delay formal action on the matter to its next meeting. That motion was made by District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard and seconded by District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams.
District 4 Supervisor Daniel Jackson then motioned to make Morgan's recommended payroll change and was seconded by Board Vice President John Montgomery.
Again, supervisors split the vote 2-2.
The board was short a member Monday due to Board President Orlando Trainer's travel plans.
In essence, the board did delay potential action on the matter until its 5:30 p.m. March 18 meeting, but it is not guaranteed yet supervisors will discuss the request.
Supervisors could place the matter on their next meeting's agenda prior to its start or amend the agenda on March 18 with a majority vote. Morgan could also request the item be placed back on the agenda prior to the meeting date.
Following the two votes, Morgan asked supervisors if the minutes will reflect how the board voted. Supervisors said they would.
The request's specifics are not fully known. Mississippi law states governing bodies may take some issues, including personnel matters, behind closed doors. Supervisors are not required to discuss those issues before or after meetings.
Morgan said the situation surrounding the request came from the fact a tax office employee was promoted to full-time status from part time in November. That employee, he said, has yet to receive a small pay increase or benefits associated with full-time, government work, including sick days, personal time off, holiday pay, state retirement or insurance coverage.
The employee was originally hired by former Oktibbeha County Tax Assessor Pat Kight as a part-time worker, Morgan said. A full-time position opened in November, Morgan said, and he promoted the worker.
The full-time slot was already approved and budgeted by the board in its Fiscal Year 2012-2013 budget, he said, yet the employee continues to receive part-time benefits.
State law dictates tax office hiring is left to the discretion of the tax assessor, Morgan said.
"She's an excellent employee," he said.
In other business, supervisors heard a cost estimate from County Road Manager Victor Collins on what it would take to widen roads by two feet.
Williams previously requested the report during a past meeting. He says the county should look into widening roads by one foot on each side for well-traveled District 5 thoroughfares. Blackjack Road, he said following the meeting, is one such road that would benefit from potential widening projects.
Currently, the county prepares 20-foot-wide roads with 22 feet of soil and cement work. To construct 22-foot-wide roads, the county would need 24 feet of preparation.
Collins estimates it would cost an additional $8,168.91 to widen one mile of road by two feet.
Jackson said he felt more comfortable leaving road-widening decisions up to the county road manager, but Williams said that call should be made by supervisors.
The board took no official action on the matter.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch