County Commissioners Wrestle With Employee Payroll Issues

An unusually long meeting for Lampasas County Commissioners saw occasionally heated moments on Monday as they dealt with confusion and disagreement on what their recent County employee payroll rules meant.

It appears that County Auditor Chris Munn made some assumptions about how he was supposed to deal with the combination of a 1.5% cost of living payroll benefit, and a 5 year salary step increase. The main crux of the matter seemed to be which would come first - the 1.5% increase or the salary step increase. The Commissioners evidently intended the 1.5% increase to come first, and to all employees across the board, then if any step increases were due, they would come next. The Auditor figured it the other way, which would cost the County another $74,000 for this fiscal year, which the Auditor had placed into the County budget.

The County Human Resource Director, Dorothy Person, saw the error, disagreed with the Auditor about how he was handling it, and the disagreement and revelation of the problem showed up in Monday’s meeting.

When County Judge Wayne Boultinghouse wanted to go into executive session to discuss the matter, Munn                                    disagreed and said it would be a breach of the Open   Meetings act. Boultinghouse said that it was to discuss personnel matters and legal – Munn adamantly disagreed. Boultinghouse relented and the whole business played out over a 1 ½ hour  plus period.

Munn had one employee whose pay would be negatively affected if his version of what was right was not accepted. County Clerk Connie Hartmann, sitting next to him, seemed to have a couple of them, and there were also a couple of other employees there who wanted the                          employee-beneficial version to prevail.

Human Resource Director Dorothy Person insisted that the rules were clear in her mind that it was to be figured the other way, and pointed out that the slight disadvantage to a few employees would only be for this first year of setting up the plan.

No agreement ever came, and at one point the County Auditor told the Commissioners that they couldn’t affect the way he was handling payroll in his department because it would be set by the District Judge, not by them.

This brought some dismay and not very well veiled anger from County Judge Boultinghouse.

Eventually, the matter, and the meeting, ended with an agreement that a committee to include the County Auditor, Human Resource Director, and Commissioners Lowell Ivey and Bobby Carroll would meet again and decide on the 21st of November what should be done. That agenda was amended later Monday to include a court session on the 21st that will also canvass the Nov. 8 election and adopt procedures for utility installation permits.

In other matters, a new Burn Ban was instated for 90 days, but was quickly lifted until Nov. 21st.

It was agreed to create a new Private Road in the west part of the county, also to grant Kempner Water Supply permission to install a water line under a county gravel road, and to grant some Sheriff’s Dept. employees pay hikes based on longevity.