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Commissioners agree communication is key

By Tamra Jarrett Personnel policy, execution of board directives and improving customer service were on the minds of commissioners during the first workshop of the new year Jan. 7 at the United Bank lake house. The goal of the meeting was to improve the working relationship with the county manager. Commission chairman Doug Mangham and commissioners Don Collins, Parrish Swift and Roosevelt Willis met in the morning and were joined by commissioner Tommy Powers and county manager Steve Marro after lunch. ’I’ve been bothered by the fact the county manager or department heads are given direction and we never hear about it again, said Collins, who took office Jan. 1. I call it the abyss. We’re here today to work out ways to make things move smoother. Marro agreed to send the same communications to commissioners as he does to department heads. He noted much of the work is turned over to county attorney Rob Morton, who performs it on a priority basis. Collins said commissioners want to know the status of their directives in a timely manner. As county manager, Marro heads county personnel with the authority to hire and fire. Collins noted there is a personnel manual, but it does not cover job descriptions or disciplinary action. It should be revisited and completed. Marro said he is in charge of personnel policy, but there is no human resources person on staff. There was also concern about if employees have adequate training to perform their jobs. We should have qualified employees and a lot of times they’re here because they’ve been here, said Collins. I for one don’t know all the qualifications of the people who work here, Marro said. Department heads have the authority to hire and fire their employees. Mangham said employees should receive training if they are qualified to perform their jobs. Finance technician Sean Townsend recently attended training to become a certified finance officer level one. Commissioners allowed Marro to address his concerns. He recommended he be given a salary increase. Willis said he may be going to learn what he should already know. You have a $28,000 person in charge of a $10 million budget, Marro said. You’re in charge of that budget, Willis replied. Marro noted a lot employees will not receive their 2.5% step increase because they are not qualified. Collins asked Marro to address customer service by county employees. When a taxpayer or potential taxpayer shows up, they should see a smiling face. We can offer customer service, said Collins. Even if we can’t help the person, we can let them know their request has been honored. To aid the flow of information to citizens, commissioners asked Marro to post monthly financial reports and meeting minutes on the county website. Powers said commissioners voted to have the information posted. Is that doable? Collins asked. You’re dumping more and more work on people who already have too much for a 40 hour week Marro said. Marro noted morale among employees is low because they feel they are being bashed by citizens and commissioners. Citizen interference was among Marro’s concerns. He said there are problems with the budget process because of citizen interference. He said they also display a disrespectful attitude toward commissioners and fail to understand a county manager form of government. I don’t work for the taxpayers. I work for you people (commissioners) in the interest of the taxpayers, Marro said.

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