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Issue of October 29, 2014
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Personal day cuts approved in county personnel policy

June 18, 2014 | 02:38 PM

The Harrison County Board of Commissioners Monday night officially approved the new personnel policy, including the cut from four personal days a year to two for county employees.

Commissioner George Ethridge said the majority of the employees he spoke with had a problem with the cut in days.

"I've gotten an earful," he said.

Ethridge said he was sticking with his opinion that the days should be cut to two. With 18 paid holidays, the possibility of having up to as much as 18 vacation days, six sick days and the county paying 95 percent medical insurance, Ethridge said he was still in favor of making the cut in personal days.

"I know it's a huge political hit," he said. "It's a decision made here. It's our call. We'll have to bear the brunt of that decision."

Ethridge said that when he ran for the office of commissioner, it was with the understanding that he would represent the taxpayers and the employees of the county and find a way to strike a balance. He said he thought the county council did a great job with the compensation and job description plan, which resulted in many positions seeing pay increases. He said the main argument he's heard for extra benefits, such as four personal days, was the employees are underpaid.

"I don't think they're underpaid anymore," Ethridge said, citing the study initiated by the council and conducted by an Indianapolis firm.

Ethridge said benefits are one-sided in county government compared to those in the private sector.

"It's unwise and unfair to ask them (private sector) to bear the brunt of these benefits that they don't get," he said.

Commissioner Jim Klinstiver said he's worked on both sides of the fence: in the private sector as a business owner and farmer where he received zero vacation days and for the state highway department where he racked up so many it was hard to use them all before retiring.

"I could argue they've earned it," Klinstiver said of the four personal days. "That was the deal they made with the commissioners at the time. I don't think their employment will depend on it."

Ethridge reiterated that employees will still have their four days for this year, and this part of the new policy won't take effect until Jan. 1.

"We don't want to take what people have already," he said.

The policy was unanimously approved.

In other matters, the board sided with the Harrison County Advisory Plan Commission and did not approve a change of zone for a maintenance building between Old Capital Golf Club and Tyson Foods. Instead, the board advised the potential buyer of the building to go to the board of zoning appeals for an exemption to take his semi-trailer diesel engine repair shop to the new location by purchasing the maintenance building from Harrison County Golf LLC.

The board approved a zone change to a Planned Unit Development (patio homes) on the north side of Country Club Road between Country Club Estates Drive and Smith Hill Road, in the area that is now a par-3 course at Old Capital Golf Club.

The board also appointed Kathy Shireman to the Harrison County Hospital Board of Trustees.

The next meeting of the commissioners will be Monday, July 7, at 8:30 a.m. at the Government Center in Corydon.

Twitter: @rossschulz

  1. print email
    June 19, 2014 | 05:32 AM

    … Etheridge's wife works for the Post Office, yet he wants to cut local people's benefits. I would like to see them send back some of their benefits first.

  2. print email
    Your Turn
    June 19, 2014 | 10:16 AM

    I don't agree with taking away from an employee. If you want to take away to make it level out take it away from your pay. You just don't do any employee that way. Yes you may have got their pay where it needs to be but your taking it back by taking another benefit away. It's a slap in the face. Then you expect them to be happy about it. You make sacrifices and take it from your pay to level it out. Don't take it back from your employees and then act like your doing them a favor by getting their pay where it should have been in the first place because they have already sacrificed now it's your turn. You just stated in this article


    Tax Payer

  3. print email
    June 19, 2014 | 01:52 PM

    "We don't want to take what people have already," [Ethridge] said.

    That's in reference to taking this year's personal days from them. They have already received those and they aren't being taken away. They haven't received the ones for future years and those are what's changing under this policy change.

    I don't see what attacking Ethridge's wife has to do with anything.

  4. print email
    June 20, 2014 | 12:49 AM

    I support Ethridge. If the employees got a problem with it leave. They got it good and easy "WORKING" for the county ... Their bbenefits is way above anyone elses around.

  5. print email
    June 20, 2014 | 01:46 PM

    They have it Good and Easy? Have you ever done their jobs? Yes they have excellent Benefits and your mad about that? What does that have to do with their days being cut? Have your days cut and see how happy you are about it. People dont care about other people unless it effects them thats what wrong with this world. Either way this year or next year they are being taken away and its not right but hey thats Politics for ya! ...

  6. print email
    June 20, 2014 | 02:28 PM

    I wonder how many county employees qualify for public assistance? Days off is only part of the benefits package. I bet their pay does not come close to the private sector.

  7. print email
    don't bite the hand that feeds you
    June 22, 2014 | 08:50 AM

    Lets see, the state new starting pay is $14, they get 13 holidays paid on election years, 3 personel days, and 9 sick days. Two years ago the starting pay for the state was around $11.50. So the county has been getting 46 days total to the states 26, what is your gripe that's 9 weeks out of the year you can be off. Almost all of the highway dept. employees take home vehicles citing they are needed in case of an emergency and diesel fuel is not cheap. So lets figure out how much diesel fuel is being used and deduct that from your pay ... Let the commissioners check the surounding counties like I did and you will find that they only allow trucks to be taken home when their is a known emergency on its way. The state has down sized its number of permanet employees and hiring summer and winter help so that they don't have to pay benefits or days off thus reducing their cost and saving taxpayers money. You guys got it so hard my what a shame.
    almost july think maybe someone in the hwy dept can get down south and cut the hay on the side of the rds. and while your not busy whining could you make it safer for us by putting rock on the side of the rds that have been paved for 2 years now.

  8. print email
    June 23, 2014 | 09:44 AM

    You get almost 9 weeks off and your complaining about 2 days. Plus most of the highway dept employees take home county trucks, how much does that figure out to be in tax payer dollars. What you whinning about and the private sector pays less.

  9. print email
    June 23, 2014 | 03:02 PM

    County Hwy is not the only dept in the county. There are several depts that dont get take home vehicles. Yes we are thankful to have a job that is close to home but everyone thinks that all county employees have it made but thats not the case. First, For the past several yrs there has only been a 1% increase in pay and a 2% increase once. The national cost of living goes up 3% every year. Yes 1% is better than nothing but times are still hard. Second, the county switched health insurance at the begining of this year. We was told how it was cheaper and great insurance. Not so much, out of pocket is more than 5 times what is was and its not cheaper. Yes its a job and I know there are not a lot of good ones availible, but its not great!!

  10. print email
    June 23, 2014 | 10:41 PM

    Try living on social security, we get less than that. A gallon of diesei is right at $4 and those trucks don't get that good of fuel milage. So lets go on the low end at 2 gallons a day for a take home truck, wow you just got a dollar raise and I am sure they use more than that. So lets say you are at $16 ph so that equals a 6.2% raise. As fro the health insurance we are all in the same boat. And your point was?

  11. print email
    June 24, 2014 | 09:33 AM

    I work in the private sector and haven't gotten a raise in years. I'm probably not alone in that. So yes, times are hard. County employees should be grateful they got a raise at all.

    And we're all in the same sad boat when it comes to health insurance, whether you work in the private sector or for county government. Thank you, Obama and the Democrats.

  12. print email
    Personal Days
    June 25, 2014 | 08:41 AM

    Let's define that. An employee has some "personal" event that does not allow them to work. Fine, I get that, but why should they get paid?
    If you have to take your dog to the Vet, you need to get paid to do it? You have a doctors appointment, and you need to get paid to go?? A personal day, in the private sector, is exactly this. A personal day is when you have a "personal" event and you are allowed to take off without the event counting against your attendance. It is not counted as an absence if requested in advance; you don't get paid!! If you want paid for that day, you take it as a vacation day.
    Just curious, are there ever any county "personal" days that are not used? Or is it more likely that the personal days needed are exactly the amount that is allowed by the policy, just curious.
    The employees want the county to look out for their interest, so I would expect the employees to look out for the county's interest as well. Exactly how many "personal" days were NOT used last year? How many employees didn't have 4 personal events that did not require them to take a paid day off? Please, anyone have that info that would like to share it??

    Don Smith
  13. print email
    June 26, 2014 | 08:10 AM

    Yes we have personal time and vacation time. No we won't be losing any money by losing the personal days. We'll only be losing time off. HOWEVER, the insurance on the other hand stinks to high heaven. The officials of this county voted to change insurance because it was cheaper with absolutely no changes to our coverage. ... Our coverage vs cost is much much different. As a result, I cannot afford to even do a preventative wellness screening due to the cost. I definitely will be voting against these folks this election year and will encourage all that I know to do the same. ...

    Fed completely up!
  14. print email
    June 26, 2014 | 08:41 AM

    To fed up, go to the privete sector and it is no better. Same health benefits if they carry it, no pension,no personel days off and no vacation till after the 1st year being there. Vote them out and replace them with who? Ain't seen a good one to replace what we got. The purse strings are being tightened down and the county and you are going to have to bite the bullet whether you like it are not. By the way if you want regular insurance with the state it will cost you over $400 a pay. The grass always looks greener on the other side until you get there. Quit and move on I am sure their are a lot of people who would love yo have your job.

  15. print email
    June 26, 2014 | 08:41 AM

    reading the comments I just sit here and shake my head.seems the focus is on co hwy dept. what about the 911 dispatch and the officers and corrections that work 24 hrs a day and week ends and holidays??? the only time they get a holiday off is if it falls on the scheduled days off. the dispatchers are devoted to their job, that's the reason they stay and EARN the vacation time. and yes several of them has lost personal days each year because the work load is so high they can't have a day when they need it. you say the pay is fair wage--dispatch makes 35 cents more than the janitors--how fair is that--working weekends and holidays??
    now the insurance issue??everyone is afraid to go to the doctor because the insurance is not covering what anthem did-seems they are out to get the dedicated workers all around

  16. print email
    June 26, 2014 | 08:42 AM

    Who has 9 weeks of paid vacation? I'm not sure who the person that mentioned that is, but I assure you, there is no such perk in my department. I'm not sure what the public and the commissioners believe the jobs of the county and state to be, but it's not sitting around eating donuts and pawning people off so that they can file their nails. Some of us do real work that save lives and get the help needed as quickly as possible. The stress is tremendous and yes that is our choice to do as an employee. We are paid to do that with a one personal day each quarter to take care of business on a personal level. Will we be hit financially if they're taken away? No. Will we consider who to vote for due to callousness and no consideration for the employees that have been doing a good job for years? Absolutely. See you at the polls folks.

  17. print email
    June 26, 2014 | 10:02 AM

    If you didn't want to be in office why didn't you say so? We're happy to vote this fall!

    Happy To Oblige
  18. print email
    County workers
    June 30, 2014 | 04:03 PM

    Have you ever asked why a Ford car is $40,000 dollars. Because of the pay and benefits their workers receive. Nobody cares about that but mention a county worker and boy they don't deserve anything. The pay is nowhere near the private sector. I know. I took a huge pay cut to come to the county, and yes it was my choice. I just don't like to see someone make an untrue statement twice regarding holidays and pay. Just ask a councilman. They didn't work on the pay. They hired a company to do it and they didn't look outside the county. They compared one office to the other. I am thankful for my job and will continue to do it regardless. I also know who I will not vote for next time.

  19. print email
    To Amazed
    July 01, 2014 | 03:55 PM

    Ford benefits and pay, particularly for new hires are no where close to what they were in the past. I just had a friend start at $14/hr.
    And if you thinks no one cares, can you say Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Kia, Mercedes, BMW and any others that are cutting into the U.S. car market. We are buying these cars because they are just as good and because of the lack of those benefits you speak of, are cheaper.
    Is a company the only thing that should face competition and adjust accordingly, or should the government take a look around every once in awhile.
    I believe it to be very rare that a tax is removed or a government benefit is decreased.

Barbara Shaw
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