WEDOWEE - County employees who have continued to show up for work during the COVID-19 pandemic will soon start to see extra pay for their efforts.

At Monday's meeting of Randolph County Commission, commission members approved a $1.50 per hour incentive pay for 12 weeks for all full-time county employees. The $1.50 will be added to their current pay rates and will add an additional $61,000 to the county's payroll over that time.

Some deft budgetary maneuvering by county CFO Travis Heard set the stage for the commission's budget amendment that will allow them to cover that $61,000 increase and hire a full-time custodian to help keep the courthouse clean amid the pandemic while losing just under $1,600 from the county's general fund.

Here's how it worked:

  • The original budget had $70,871 marked for principal and interest payments on the purchase of new vehicles for the county through the first six months of the fiscal year. That money was not spent, which made it available for other uses.
  • The new full-time custodian position will require $11,447 in payroll and benefits for the remainder of the year.
  • The 12-week $1.50 hourly incentive pay ($60,999), plus the custodian position ($11,447) comes out to $72,446, of which all but $1,575 will be covered by the unspent vehicle money.

The whole process required three separate votes by the commission members. The first, to approve the temporary $1.50 pay increase, passed unanimously. The second, creating the full-time custodian's position, passed 3-2 with Derek Farr and Lathonia Wright voting in opposition. The county already has one full-time custodian on staff, and Farr did not see the need for a second while the courthouse remains closed to the public.

"To have a full-time custodian taking care of an empty building, I don't think is smart," Farr said.

The third action, the budget amendment, required to move the necessary funds to cover the new payroll expenses, also passed unanimously.

The idea for incentive pay was introduced at the April 13 commission meeting as a way to reward sheriff's department employees who had no way to adhere to social distancing recommendations due to job requirements, such as making arrests and handling inmates at the jail.

But the committee that was formed to work out the details of the incentive pay determined that any county employees who are required to come to work should receive the extra money.

"We figured everyone is at risk because they're leaving their homes and coming to work," said commissioner and committee member Derek Farr.

Farr told his fellow commissioners that Sheriff David Cofield, who was also on the committee, did not push for extra money for his department. But Commissioner Doyle Allen asked that the committee explore additional money on top of the $1.50 increase for sheriff's department and jail workers. The commission approved that action, which means the committee will re-convene between now and the next commission meeting to determine any additional pay increases and how to fund them.

Paving on CR 87

Resurfacing of a three-mile stretch of County Road 87 should begin sometime next week, according to county engineer Burrell Jones.

The road will be re-paved from the Graham community at Highway 48 south to the intersection with county road 438.

Other actions

In other action at Monday's meeting, the commission:

  • Agreed to advertise for bid specs to equip and stripe the six new sheriff's vehicles that the county has ordered, once those vehicles are delivered.
  • Approved the appointment of Steve Dempsey to replace Ron Bass as the District 2 representative for the Department of Human Resources Board.
  • Heard an update on the construction of the new jail from Mike Rutland of JMR+H Architecture. Rutland described specifics of setting up locations of video visitation stations and inmate telephones within the new facility.
  • Moved the scheduled May 25 meeting to a combined meeting with the scheduled workshop of May 21 to avoid meeting on Memorial Day.
  • Changed the scheduled May 11 meeting to a combined meeting/workshop, with no additional workshop meeting taking place on May 7.

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