By Rachel Baldwin
September 1, 2013
Special to the Williamson Daily News
WILLIAMSON – The Mingo County Commission said today it is more than willing to help Mingo County Clerk Jim Hatfield work through alleged personnel issues if the clerk will cooperate with other courthouse offices in managing employee-earned leave time.
For several months, Hatfield has approached the commission during regular sessions requesting to hire two additional deputy clerks for his office. He maintains that his current eight-person staff is overworked and underpaid and that he has had to close the clerk’s office from noon to 1 p.m. for lunch each day. Additionally, Hatfield is citing a recent notice from a national voters’ rights watchdog organization demanding that voter records be purged as need for increased staff.
Commissioners John Mark Hubbard and Greg “Hootie” Smith reiterated what they have said on record during numerous county commission meetings over the past several months when Hatfield has requested additional staff. The commissioners explained that because Hatfield’s employees do not follow the uniform personnel policy adhered to by every other office in the courthouse (the manner in which Hatfield’s deputy clerks accumulate paid leave time such as sick days and vacation) could present a financial deficit for the county.
“We have told Clerk Hatfield time and again that if he will sign the personnel policy that properly guides the accrual of leave time for his employees, we will hire one new position for his office now, lend him a county commission employee to assist with the record purging and, in the future, look at adding the second position to his office as our budget allows,” explained Hubbard, the commission’s president.
In addition to the issue created by Hatfield’s failure to participate with the personnel policy, the county’s annual $8 million operating budget has lost more than $500,000 in revenue due to the slump in the coal industry. That loss in revenue is expected to increase as the year progresses.
The commissioners said they have no desire to dictate hiring in county clerk’s office based on politics, as Hatfield has alleged.
“We just don’t have the money to create jobs right now,” Smith stressed. “And the potential deficit grows each day that Clerk Hatfield doesn’t sign the personnel policy.”
A former clerk’s office employee currently working for the Mingo County Assessor’s Office has volunteered to transfer back there, but Hatfield has declined the offer, despite the fact the employee has already been trained as to the duties of a deputy clerk.
“We sincerely want to compromise and work with Mr. Hatfield to the best our abilities,” Hubbard said, “however, cooperation is a two-sided coin and our clerk is going to have to meet us halfway in order to resolve this issue.”