Highway Department employees meet with Haakon County Commissioners about overtime accrual

Haakon County highway department employees were able to discuss their overtime accrual with the Haakon County Commissioners on Tuesday, December 6, 2008.

At the November 2008, meeting the board of commissioners discussed the amount of overtime the highway department employees were accruing. Currently the department is working four, 11 hour days. That leaves each employee four hours of overtime, paid at time and a half.

Foreman Hugh Harty noted he was not making as much as any of his three children. "It helps out to get the overtime," he said. Todd Radway noted if the overtime was cut, he would have to get another part-time position to make ends meet. "If I have to get another job, my main job will be hurt," he said.

Haakon County Commissioner Lawrence Schofield noted that the department is operating with three less employees compared to just a few years ago. Going the longer hours helps get the work done, said Kenny Neville, highway superintendent. "If we go to six months of four, 11 hours days, it cuts down a third of the week we can get done."

Commissioner Don Eymer stated he would like to see the hours left as they have been for the past year, and then take up this discussion at budget time next year. "He (Neville) has been to all our budget meetings, seeing us trying to make things work," said Eymer. Chairman Neal Brunskill noted the county has to budget their income and cuts will have to be made. He noted he was concerned with the current economic situation. "The federal government is cutting, the state government is cutting, it will affect us," he said. "If next year we are short in our budget we will have to cut somewhere." Eymer stated that is why he would like this discussion left until next year, since the highway department has in their budget to cover wages for 2009. Schofield questioned Neville if he had budgeted for wages and overtime in the 2009 budget, and Neville replied in the affirmative. Commissioner Mel Smith said, "The reason it was set up this way is to give a fair wage." Brunskill said, "I'll agree with the fair wage and like Donnie, it should be agreed to at budget time, in next year's budget. I don't think their wages should be based on overtime. We're just setting a precedent." He added that a raise and then a return to overtime strictly for disaster and snow removal would be the better option.

Commissioner Rita O'Connell noted that the board of commissioners is set up to represent all constituents in the county. In that capacity the board has to look at different aspects and work with a budget that makes everyone happy. "Whatever decision we make involves the whole county," she said. Eymer added that when the board works on the 2010 budget, cuts will have to be made. "I hope you realize our side," he said.

A motion was passed to leave the employees hours as they currently are, at the discretion of Neville. Eymer stated, "I want the men to know that next budget time something will have to be done."

Neville updated the board on future bridge projects. The board approved the surplus of two motor graders and advertising their sale.

The commissioners approved meeting minutes from November 4 and 10, 2008, and the past month's warrants. Jessica Eikmeier, Extension youth development educator was given approval to purchase a laptop computer. Half of the cost will be paid by Jackson County, if approved at their meeting next week.

Liquor licenses for T-34, Lake Waggoner Golf Course and Philip American Legion were approved. The board approved appointments to the Haakon/Jackson County Fair Board, for the county employees to have December 26th off, the contract with South Dakota Department of Health for the county health nurse, and permission for employees and commissioners to attend County Day at the Legislature and the Black Hills Association of commissioners and County Officials meeting.

The board held two executive sessions, both to discuss personnel issues. Each session lasted under 20 minutes with no action following.

The commissioners will meet December 23 to wrap up the 2008 year. Their next regular meeting will be January 6, 2009 at 9:00 a.m. At that time two new commissioners, Nick Konst and Gary Snook will be sworn in. Konst replaces Smith and Snook will replace Schofield.