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County Commissioner Resigns After EMS Employees Left Out of Pay Raise Plan (VIEW VIDEO OF MEETING HERE)

February 27, 2018
By: Dwayne Page

The County Commission Monday night voted to ante up more money to give county general and sheriff’s department employees pay raises retroactive to January 1 but a proposal to increase pay for EMS staff under a plan proposed by Second District Commissioner Joe Johnson was not approved although it may be considered again soon.

Upset by the move, Johnson resigned from the commission in protest saying he was ashamed of the body’s actions and no longer wanted to be part of this group.

Near the end of the meeting, Johnson passed his resignation letter to County Mayor Tim Stribling and asked him to read it to the commission.

(VIEW VIDEO OF COUNTY COMMISSION MEETING HERE)

“I am writing this letter to inform you (County Mayor and County Commission) that I am resigning my position as County Commissioner, 2nd District.

I feel that I am not as effective as I should be in my duties as a commissioner. The decision was not an easy one to make. My work to make the pay equal in all departments has failed.

I feel the commission does not realize how important it is to treat all the employees the same.

I do not want to be a part of a commission that raises some departments and ignores others.

As of March 1, 2018, I resign as a County Commissioner,” the letter concluded.

Johnson said the ambulance service has lost several employees within the last year and will lose more if they are not paid more.

“There are sixteen full time positions with the ambulance service. In 2017, twenty people quit to go to other counties for more money. Ten of those are paramedics. Today I had three paramedics to tell me after tonight they will be resigning unless they get a raise. We are losing our ambulance service,” said Johnson.

Had the entire proposal been approved as presented for the sheriff’s department staff, EMS, and county general employees), it would have added to the budget $269,792 dollars in new spending ($76,023 of that for the ambulance service) for the six month period from January 1 through June 30 this year possibly forcing the county to spend up to $894,000 of its $4 million general fund cash reserves (fund balance) although County Mayor Tim Stribling said he thought it might not be that much. “I don’t think we will go into the fund balance that much but we will more than we have in the last few years. We had budgeted for 2016-17 going into cash $554,441 but we didn’t go into cash by that much. We actually went into cash by $127, 427 which left a fund balance of $4,078,531,” said Stribling.

Third District Commissioner Jack Barton made a motion to move forward with the proposals for county general and sheriff’s department employees and to re-evaluate the pay of ambulance service staff for the 2018-19 budget. “I would like to do a more indepth analysis of the emergency services. The EMS is deserving of a raise as well but I want to try and make sure that we are competitive with all the counties we’ve compared against and that we are making the best financial decision,” said Barton.

Fifth District Commissioner Jerry Adcock offered a second to Barton’s motion.
Fifth District Commissioner Anita Puckett then moved to table Barton’s motion “so we can have more time to reappraise all this and maybe have a special called meeting to discuss this. First and foremost we don’t have any proposals on how we are going to pay for these salary increases but I know that it may be a tax increase and that’s going to be huge. I just feel like we all need some more time to absorb this and look at all our different options and if we decide to pass it next month we can go ahead and allow them to have their pay increases from January, February, and March. But definitely we need more discussion,” said Puckett.

First District Commissioner Julie Young seconded Puckett’s motion to table.

Before the vote, Sheriff Patrick Ray urged the commission not to delay on raises for his employees because they haven’t had one in four years. Although the county commission last July voted to freeze wages of all county general employees until at least January due to budget concerns, raises had already been given two years ago under a new wage scale to other county employees as well as a 4% raise to EMS staff.

“Eight months ago we passed a budget and the sheriff’s department was up for a pay increase for employees. We brought some figures over here to give to the budget committee but the budget committee wasn’t for sure at that time how we were going to come out of last year’s budget so they asked all the county employees including the raises we were up for to be put off until January to be able to see how the year ended whether we were in the plus or minus and if we could afford the raises. We got to January and began talking with the budget committee and we got put off until February and that’s how we wound up here tonight. While we have waited at the sheriff’s department for a year and eight months for my employees’ raises, everyone else has still been getting their raises. The county’s secretaries have been getting them. The directors at those places have been getting them while my employees have been waiting. If we set and wait another month or wait until the next budget year then we’re that much further behind,” he said.

Sheriff Ray said his department has also lost employees within the last year for better pay elsewhere.

“I went back to July 1 of this last year and since then I have lost nine employees with probably 50 plus years of experience. I had a Chief Deputy to leave because of money and that was the only reason he left. He got offered a better job. Some of the other directors were getting $6,600 more a year than what my Chief Deputy was making. I also have sixteen correctional officers, three secretaries, two litter guards, a cook, and all the deputies and they were making below him. We’re way behind on what we should be making. The county also takes 5% of their checks which goes to retirement. And if they have insurance, the insurance offered by the county is usually higher than what they can get through a private insurance company. All those things put together makes a hardship to work at the sheriff’s department,” he said.

After hearing from Sheriff Ray, Commissioner Young rescinded her second to Puckett’s motion to table. However Fourth District Commissioner Jonathan Norris moved to second the motion “for one month only because I want to make sure that everybody gets the raises that need to and that we can fund it properly and not put ourselves in too much jeopardy in doing so,” said Norris.

Sixth District Commissioner Betty Atnip then moved to amend the motion to table by voting only on the sheriff’s department raises and to table the others for 30 days. Third District member Bradley Hendrix offered a second to Atnip’s motion.

Atnip’s motion failed on a 9-5 vote. Those voting in favor were Betty Atnip, Anita Puckett, Bradley Hendrix, Jerry Adcock, and Julie Young. Voting no were Wayne Cantrell, Larry Summers, Kevin Robinson, Joe Johnson, Jimmy Midgett, Jeff Barnes, Jonathan Norris, Jack Barton, and Mason Carter.

A vote was then taken on Puckett’s motion to table the salary increases for one month and it failed 10-4. Those voting in favor were Betty Atnip, Anita Puckett, Jonathan Norris and Julie Young. Voting no were Jerry Adcock, Wayne Cantrell, Larry Summers, Bradley Hendrix, Kevin Robinson, Joe Johnson, Jimmy Midgett, Jeff Barnes, Jack Barton, and Mason Carter.

Commissioner Young then seconded Barton’s original motion to move forward in funding the raises for the county general employees and the sheriff’s department and to further study EMS salaries.

Commissioner Johnson moved to amend Barton’s motion and approve raises for employees in all three departments, county general, sheriff’s department, and EMS. Second District Commissioner Jimmy Midgett seconded the motion.

Johnson’s motion failed on a 7-6-1 vote.
Those voting in favor were Joe Johnson, Jimmy Midgett, Jeff Barnes, Bradley Hendrix, Kevin Robinson, and Mason Carter.

Voting no were Wayne Cantrell, Jerry Adcock, Larry Summers, Betty Atnip, Jonathan Norris, Anita Puckett, and Jack Barton. Julie Young abstained.

A vote followed on Barton’s motion to move forward in funding the raises for the county general employees and the sheriff’s department and to further study EMS salaries. The motion was adopted on an 11 to 3 vote.

Those voting in favor were Betty Atnip, Larry Summers, Jerry Adcock, Bradley Hendrix, Julie Young, Jeff Barnes, Wayne Cantrell, Jonathan Norris, Kevin Robinson, Anita Puckett, and Jack Barton.

Voting no were Jimmy Midgett, Joe Johnson, and Mason Carter.

Following the final vote, Commissioner Norris asked that a special meeting be scheduled soon to discuss addressing EMS wages.




Director of Schools Admonishes Community To Help Ensure Safety of Students

February 27, 2018
By: Dwayne Page

In light of recent rumors of social media threats against local schools and now a teen having been charged in a juvenile petition with making a social media threat toward a teacher, Director of Schools Patrick Cripps has issued the following statement to students, families, employees, and citizens of DeKalb County to help ease concerns.

“The DeKalb County School System would like to remind all families of DeKalb County that the safety of our students is of the utmost concern and we are asking for your help to ensure all students remain safe.

We know that emotions are running high and any rumor about potential violence can be of great concern for parents and students. While we expect students to report any threats they may hear about, please remind your children that repeating rumors to their classmates that are unverified does nothing but create unnecessary panic and stress. Any and all concerns about possible threats should be reported to an adult, and not shared between students. Sharing of unfounded threats continues to create a great deal of anxiety among students and parents.

Please know the safety of our students and staff members is our top priority. We will continue to investigate any reports that are made and will keep our local law enforcement agencies involved as well. If any threat is deemed credible at any time, we will immediately take action to protect our students and staff members. DeKalb County schools, along with other districts in Tennessee and across the country, are being inundated with reports of potential safety concerns. As we move through this time of heightened concern and distress with regard to school safety, it is important to remember that the overwhelming majority of students, staff and their families in every school in the country want their schools to be safe places where teaching and learning take place. We call upon every person in DeKalb County to help our students feel safe and cared for by reporting concerns promptly, not sharing misinformation, and by taking the time to build supportive relationships with one another.

Thank you for trusting us to keep your students safe,” wrote Director Cripps.

(CLICK LINK BELOW FOR COMMUNITY CALENDAR, CHURCH NEWS, CLASSIFIEDS AND MORE)https://www.wjle.com/community




Josh Isaac Named Director of County Complex

February 27, 2018
By: Dwayne Page

Josh Isaac is the new Director of the Mike Foster Multi Purpose Center (DeKalb County Complex).

The county commission Monday night unanimously voted to accept the recommendation of the parks and recreation committee to hire Isaac.

As a county employee, he will work 40 hours a week and be paid according to the new wage scale with a starting salary of $26,785. He will have assistants working with him.

Isaac was one of twelve persons who applied for the position. Two of them later dropped out leaving ten who were interviewed for the job by the committee.

“The committee as a whole recommended Josh. He has what we felt like were the best ideas as far as going forward with things that draw people in to benefit more senior citizens, children, and everyone involved. We think he is going to do a great job,” said county commissioner Jonathan Norris and member of the parks and recreation committee.

Isaac comes to the complex from DeKalb Middle School where he served as a teacher’s assistant. He also produces plays and works with youth.

“Please keep me in your prayers as I start this new journey. I am excited to get in there and make a difference and change the culture of DeKalb in a whole new way. I have some great ideas and I am asking for your support and readiness to try new things. I truly believe we can make the Complex THE place to go for everything. Give me a couple months to get everything started and come by and see me and share your ideas any time,” said Isaac on his Facebook post.

Job responsibilities of the director are as follows:
*Overseeing all daily activities, finance and scheduling
*Preparing yearly budget
*Making daily deposits
*Coordinating activities for the county complex
*Booking & renting rooms
*Planning activities for all ages
*Keeping records for complex (attendance, finance)
*Supervising games, events, activities, etc.
*Being responsible for inventory of property
*Working irregular hours, including nights and weekends
*Being responsible for booking classes and getting volunteers to assist with programs
*Scheduling and overseeing employees and volunteers to assist with programs
*Possess solid computer and people skills
*Be willing to attend training for First Aid, CPR, and perhaps First Responder Classes

The county complex is open 12 hours a day, six days per week.




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