EMA position remains unfilled, for now

Published 7:57 pm Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Even though commissioners have approved funding for a permanent assistant in the Pike County EMA office, they aren’t necessarily moving to fill that position immediately.

In part because the office already benefits from a temporary part-time employee, approved by the commission earlier this year.

“(Pike County EMA Director Jeanna Barnes) has a part-time person who just started,” said Commissioner Oren Fannin. “You can keep that person on for six months, until February I think. I would just rather wait and see what happens.”

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Funding for the full-time, permanent position was approved Monday as part of the fiscal year 2011 budget. “It was included in the budget, but there wasn’t a decision made to fill the job at this point,” said Harry Sanders, county administrator.

The temporary part-time employee referenced by Fannin, whose position is authorized until February 2011 and was previously approved by the commission, can work up to 39 hours per week, essentially functioning in a full-time position. The employee doesn’t have benefits, or the guarantee of employment beyond February, although the commission could vote to extend the temporary part-time position another six months.

The new, full-time position approved on Monday includes a base salary of $23,698 and a total compensation, including benefits, of approximately $32,975, Barnes said

Jimmy Barron, commission chairman, said Barnes would need to request permission from the commission to fill the approved position. “The ball’s really in her court,” he said. “She knows what her workload is. She’ll come back to us when she gets ready…. and we’ll decide then whether or not to give her authority to advertise for the position.”

However, at least one commissioner isn’t convinced now is the time to fill that position.

“As for right now, and next month and the next month, my vote would be no,” Fannin said. “I wasn’t comfortable starting out saying we’re broke and creating a new job … just because we funded it doesn’t mean we’re going to fill it.”

Fannin said the commission has several options it should consider in filling the position moving forward. And, he said, the commission will ultimately decide if the position should be advertised publicly or filled from within the county employee pool. “And if there’s a possibility we might be able to move someone from a position where they’re not needed to this position, we should explore that,” he said. “If we could do that, then we don’t have to add an employee.”

Barnes said for now, she is “waiting until the appropriate time that I feel I need to fill the position.”

She said the workload is a strain on the current staff, “because my assistant can only work 39 hours a week and once we add the university football games, like we had last weekend when we worked from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., we’re working 50 hours a week,” Barnes said. “She can only work those 39 hours, so anything over that, she’s volunteering those hours.”