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Commissioners make policy changes for employees

While rumors claimed a large number of persons retired from the county on Friday after seeing the agenda for Orange County Commissioners Court, only five persons retired, two of which had previously submitted the required paperwork.

The agenda item creating alarm was the discussion and possible action regarding employee benefits such as implementation of sick time policy for exempt employees, sick time buy back policy program, longevity pay, and vacation.

No actions was taken on implementation of sick time policy for exempt employees pending a written formal policy for the court to review. Commissioner Precinct Four Jody Crump asked the court to wait to see a written proposal before voting.

Currently salaried employees can accrue up to 96 hours of sick time but are not allowed to participate in the buy-back program when employment is terminated.

Under the new policy, salaried, exempt employees could accrue up to 1440 hours of sick time but would still be ineligible for the buy back program save the hours accrued during non-exempt status.

County employees are no longer able to accrue more hours for the sick time buy back program.

Commissioner Precinct Two Barry Burton said he wanted to keep the policy the same but freeze the sick hours eligible to ones employees have as of the meeting Tuesday and the buy back would be at the rates as today.

County Attorney Doug Manning said this policy would not affect the collective bargaining.

The maximum number of hours the county will buy back from an employee is 480 hours.

Commissioner Precinct Four Jody Crump voted against the policy.

“I am fundamentally against buy back for sick time,” Crump said. “We should not have to pay for those hours.”

Longevity pay will now be calculated according to ones anniversary date. Previously, an employee could retire on the first on the month while the anniversary was the 28th of the month and receive that month’s longevity pay.

The court took no action on the vacation policy.

Clarification on the policy was requested due to persons retiring on January 1 and currently eligible for payouts for their full weeks of vacation.

A citizen asked the court if the ones who retired Friday would be able to have the retirement rescinded. The court is not allowed to discuss items not on the agenda according to the Texas Open Meetings Act.

The court also voted to move the regular commissioners court meeting to the second Tuesday of the month.