Crawford County Justices of the Peace once again failed to pass a measure that would allow county employees to donate vacation hours for those who had exhausted all leave time.
An ordinance that would allow time to be donated if approved by the elected official overseeing the employee was put on the table then withdrawn by JP Stanley Clark during the Crawford County Quorum Court meeting Monday after discussion brought up several issues with the ordinance.
One concern was the possibility of the ordinance opening the county up to lawsuits, said JP Carrie Jernigan. Because the ability to receive donated time would be at the discretion of the elected official, a rejected employee could claim discrimination.
That also could be the case if a minority employee was approved but no one was willing to donate time, Jernigan said.
“You are going to never be able to deny it safely,” Jernigan said.
Another concern was the possibility of violating HIPPA regulations, which oversees health information privacy.
Several JPs are in favor of allowing vacation time donations, and many noted that there is a precedent for area organizations and businesses who allow it.
“I’m all for taking care of our people,” Clark said. “I just think they give back when they know we’re willing to take care of them, too, and that benefits the citizens of our county.”
JP Lloyd Cole agreed that it is important to look out for county employees, but that the actions of the CCQC was meant to serve the entire county.
“We have to keep in mind our primary interest is to protect the people of the county,” Cole said.
One thing JPs did seem to agree upon was the need to more thoroughly define the term “catastrophic,” which is the measure by which an elected official is supposed to determine eligibility for the donation benefit.
There have been two personnel committee meetings to discuss the measure, and it also was tabled at the June meeting.
JP Elaina Damante made an open request that the court members “just get it done.”
“I think we’re doing a injustice to our employees at this point - it’s dragged on way too long,” Damante said.
JPs agreed to hold another personnel meeting with county attorney Chuck Baker to iron out issues with the measure. A date for the meeting has not yet been set.
Also at the meeting Monday, JPs approved a $60,000 appropriation from the General Fund to the detention center for housing inmates in other counties because of overcrowding.
Crawford County Detention Center has been on probation since November 2011, one of many such times, for state violations relating to lack of space and overcrowding.
Sheriff Ron Brown told JPs Monday night that the jail was re-evaluated by the state Thursday night and the results were “not good.” Brown will have the official report for them at their next monthly meeting, he said.