By Julie Ann Madden
How many people should a team have before an assistant supervisor is hired?
That was the question Union County Commissioners faced at their May 27 meeting.
The Union County Weed Board had recommended changing a weed sprayer’s position to a field supervisor.
According to Commissioner Milton Ustad, who is one of two commissioners who sits on the Weed Board, the Weed Department has three weed sprayers, an assistant field supervisor, a field supervisor and county employee Janet Lingle serves as the department’s office coordinator.
The Weed Department’s positions were set up prior to Lingle becoming the department’s office coordinator.
This year the assistant field supervisor who worked last year didn’t apply to work this summer, he explained. Therefore, the board recommended changing a weed sprayer’s position to an assistant field supervisor position at $13.72 per hour.
Commissioners approve all the county’s personnel hiring and resignations.
“So when we had this department’s positions set up, the supervisor was actually doing the office record keeping that Lingle now does,” said Commissioner Ross Jordan. “Now we don’t have that; we just have a field supervisor.”
It was noted that this was correct.
“We have two people supervising three people,” said Jordan. “I’m astounded we need to go this route. I just don’t understand it.”
“Years before we didn’t have (Lingle),” said Ustad. “You need somebody in charge in field, and we don’t have that anymore (when the supervisor is gone).”
“It’s government at its best,” said Jordan, telling his fellow commissioners he wasn’t going to vote for this employee promotion. “Three guys watching one guy digging a hole. That’s what we’ve got. I see no justification for it.”
“I see your point,” said Commission Chairperson Doyle Karpen. “But if one guy’s gone, then you have no one in charge,.”
“I think you can have (Lingle) fill in — not in the field but give directions on what they’re to be doing.”
Commissioner Marvin Schempp made the motion to change a weed sprayer’s position to an assistant field supervisor, and Neely seconded it.
The vote was 4-1 with Jordan dissenting.
During the Department Heads’ monthly reports, Lingle reported the Weed Department was still one weed sprayer short and the board was hoping to fill this position soon.
She noted she was already receiving complaints about Leafy Spurge growing in the county.
In other business, the Commissioners:
• Double-checked the disciplinary policy regarding an employee using a county credit card for personal business.
The county’s credit cards are issued in the employee’s name so the cards can easily be confused with personal credit cards, according to county officials.
This has happened twice since the county issued credit cards to the Union County Sheriff’s Office.
The first time it was Sheriff Dan Limoges who accidently used his county credit card to make a purchase.
Limoges told the commissioners he has since put the card in a special envelope with a rubber band around it to make sure he doesn’t mistakenly use it again.
This time it was one of the sheriff’s transport officers. The officer paid for a motel room in Brookings, S.D.
Both the sheriff and the employee once they were notified of the mistake, they immediately reimbursed the county.
According to the county’s Personnel Handbook, after the first mistake, the non-elected employee is given a written warning. The second time he or she is suspended for three days without pay, and the third time, the employee is terminated. All non-county business purchase charges must be paid back to the county.
For elected officials, since they can’t be suspended or terminated by the commissioners, the policy states upon an elected official’s first offense, his or her credit card would be suspended for 30 days with the card being turned into the county auditor; with second offense, the credit card use would be suspended 60 days and upon the third offense, the credit card will be deactivated permanently.
• Unanimously approved the low bid for 8,600 gallons of diesel fuel from Turkey Ridge Oil, which bid $3.099 per gallon.
• Unanimously approved paying for an indigent resident’s burial, according to the county’s policy.
• Went into executive sessions to evaluate department heads’ job performance as commissioners are beginning to work on the 2015 Budget.