WILLIAMSON – At a special meeting of the Mingo County Commission held Thursday morning, commissioners voted to cancel 16 county parking spaces rented from the city of Williamson, park county sheriff’s cruisers and made personnel decisions that impact five county employees.
The first agenda item addressed was cancelling county paid parking spaces. Recently, the City of Williamson increased monthly fees from $25 to $50. The county rents 16 parking spaces from the city. The increased fees would cost the county approximately $9,600 yearly to rent the 16 spaces. Commissioner Greg “Hootie” Smith made the motion stating, “With the thought of us looking at our own parking issues, I move that we cancel the parking with the City of Williamson for the 16 spaces and that would be effective for the month of September.” The motion was seconded and approved unopposed.
The next item discussed at the meeting concerned parking county vehicles. Smith stated, “At the last meeting we asked that the cruisers be parked. This is a big step because a cruiser being on the road with deputies driving them to and from their residents is a good deterrent for crime and it helps with scheduling and responses to emergencies. However, we are looking at every avenue possible to try to save funding. We have asked that they potentially be parked for a period of time to see if it would be a savings…The sheriff and his chief have been very receptive of trying to work with the county. He has asked that we do a 30 day trial period to see if it would be of additional savings. The sheriff, to try to better serve, has certain deputies assigned to certain areas of the county. Those deputies might live in outer lying areas of the county and it would actually defeat the purpose if that deputy had to drive in to the court house to pick up his cruiser then drive back out to the other end of the county. The sheriff is going to designate certain areas of the county for that deputy to leave his personal vehicle and exchange with his cruiser when he is on duty.”
Sheriff James Smith responded stating, “I just want to say, I understand what we are looking at. I am not mad or anything – I just don’t agree with parking them in Williamson. If the Gilbert area (deputies) has to drive from Gilbert to Williamson to get their car and go back to Gilbert, it is a 67 mile round trip. That is going to cost $250 a week for those cars in Williamson just to Gilbert and back. The Delbarton area isn’t as bad, but even the Kermit area would be $115 a week for those cruisers to drive back and forth. I don’t think you are going to save a lot by parking them centrally. I think they need to be parked in their areas.”
Smith agreed and made a motion to amend the prior resolution “that the police cruisers not be utilized to go to and from the officer’s home for a period of 30 days, with the sheriff designating the place for them to be parked and exchanged in the outlying areas of the county.”
Following the cruiser discussion, the commission voted on Court Marshal assignments and duties. Smith stated, “I would make a motion that we assign our court marshal’s to primarily secure the doors and the buildings and to stand ready to assist in the courts whenever needed by the courts and the sheriff. The court marshal’s – as needed – will need to help with community service through the day report program.”
The decision will take three sheriff deputies off road patrol and will place them in the courtroom.
Personnel cuts and reductions were addressed last. Prior to the announcements, Smith stated, “With regards to county personnel, this is the most devastating and most difficult. When you have to look at a person that has done a good job, that has done everything you have asked them to do, that has families to support and you have to tell them that you can’t afford to keep them employed anymore it is very difficult situation… With that being said we have several positions we are going to have to eliminate or potentially reduce to part time positions.”
The commission then voted to eliminate the Fiduciary Supervisor for Mingo County. The position was held by Lauren Thompson. Commission also eliminated the duties of Pam Crum, a County Clerk employee that assumed additional duties to assist the Fiduciary Supervisor. Crum will maintain her position in the clerk’s office, but will no longer receive the additional salary associated with assisting the Fiduciary Supervisor.
Commission also voted to eliminate the position of Recreation Director which was held by Ricky Wilkerson. Smith stated, “It is unfortunate that based upon our financial situation, we cannot continue to pay for that program…”
The commission then went into a brief executive session. When the commission returned, they announced that two maintenance employees would have their hours cut to part-time and will not exceed 20 hours a week and will not include benefits. Smith stated, “We can no longer continue to keep those positions as full time positions … If they cannot take advantage of that, that would be understandable and those positions would end and would not be available to the general public to apply. That would be my motion.” The motion was seconded and approved unanimously.
All decisions made at Thursday’s meeting will be effective on September 1, 2016.
(Courtney Harrison is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2279.)