County Commissioners Meeting 12.16
Commissioner Al Hofer was the only of the three commissioners not in attendance at Friday’s regularly scheduled meeting. The meeting was relatively quick, and covered a variety of topics, many of which regarded internal county affairs.
The Commissioners present began by approving the minutes of the previous meeting, approving tax cancellations, approving expenditures, and amending and signing an agreement with Avertest.
Following this slew of approvals, Tim Howley spoke briefly with the Commissioners regarding his prior request for authorization to purchase body cameras. He was retracting his request by his own volition after speaking with the County Prosecutor about certain logistical issues the body cameras might create. The Commissioners and Prosecutor commended Mr. Howley for his diligence in finding creative ways for the county to reduce liability.
In a room packed with department heads, the Commissioners and county leaders discussed potential solutions to the county’s long-standing issues surrounding compensatory time in lieu of overtime pay. The Commissioners elect that compensatory (comp) time does not work better than overtime pay because it relies on the employees to use their comp hours. Employees who do not use their comp hours are eventually paid off for the hours upon their resignation or retirement. This payout can directly harm a department’s budget, as well as prevent the department from hiring a replacement in a timely and appropriate manner. Elmore County Human Resources Director Heather Reynolds described the situation as, “Out of control”. It was a lengthy discussion in which many opinions and ideas were shared, but ultimately no decision was made. The discussion served to get the ball rolling in preparation of the county’s upcoming policy revisions.
Following this discussion, and with the department heads still present, the group was tasked with making a decision regarding the county’s future path for work-wear clothing funds. “Work-wear” clothing refers to any clothing worn by a county employee that isn’t considered an official uniform and must, under federal tax law, be taxed. Examples include cold weather gear, preferred working gear such as gloves and certain boots, jeans, and other non-uniform items. The county is not required to provide funds for such items, but it was decided that the county would provide funding to certain employees in different amounts depending on a department’s needs in order to aid its employees in acquiring non-uniform, taxable work-wear clothing. Ultimately, the group elected to provide eligible employees with a one-time stipend on their paychecks each anniversary year to aid in replacing and purchasing worn work-wear. Because of IRS tax law, the stipend provided will be taxed.
After reaching this decision, the department heads one by one approached the Commissioners to provide an update on their department’s progress and any potential concerns.
Mitra Mehta-Cooper, the Elmore County Land Use and Development Director addressed concerns she has recently encountered following a string of technical difficulties that put the county in jeopardy of violating open meetings laws. However, she noted that herself and Steve VanNorman have been in coordination, working to prevent any violations, and to create a smooth and incident-free plan of action for future meetings.
Next, Mr. VanNorman reported to the Commissioners. After a short general update, he briefed the Commissioners on an email breach that recently took place. In accordance with Idaho state law, the Idaho State Attorney General was notified within 24 hours of the breach. An investigation into the matter is ongoing. ICRMP, a lawyer specializing in cyber-security, and a private cyber forensics company are all working on the investigation. It is believed that the perpetrator had access to the email for around an hour and a half, and that 500-700 emails were sent from the infiltrated account. At this time, it is unclear what the fallout of the breach is/will be.
After an update from Trevor Powell, Nadine Cook took the stand and spoke to the Commissioners regarding the hiring process for a new University of Idaho Extension Educator. Ms. Cook and the Commissioners made it clear they wish to remove “supervising county employees” from the job’s description.
Following short reports from Sheriff Hollinshead and EMS Captain Alan Roberts, the meeting was concluded.