Committee rejects Hawkins mayor's request for additional employee

Jeff Bobo • Jul 4, 2019 at 1:30 PM

ROGERSVILLE — The Hawkins County mayor’s office has been blessed for years with highly skilled, semi-retired, part-time staff who were able to fill in the gaps when it got busy or someone in the office was off.

At some point, however, those highly skilled part-timers may no longer be available.

That’s why Mayor Jim Lee is requesting the addition of a full-time position for his office.

On Tuesday, Lee made his case before the County Commission’s Personnel Committee, asking for the creation of a new position to be cross-trained to perform a wide range of duties in his office.

Following a lengthy discussion, Commissioner Tom Kern made a motion to forward Lee’s request to the full commission, but it failed for a lack of a second.

Personnel Committee Chairman Mark DeWitte noted that Lee can still make his case before the full commission and ask for his new position to be added when the commission considers approval of the 2019-20 fiscal year budget.

The new position would pay a salary of approximately $30,000. With benefits and workman’s comp insurance, the total cost of that new position would be approximately $41,000.

Lee explained that most of that cost would be covered by a reduction of $35,000 in his annual part-time staff budget expenditure, as well as other cuts.

The mayor’s office has also saved approximately $43,000 by cutting various budget line items in the county buildings budget including some phone bills, insurance, replacing employee uniforms with T-shirts, computer support, and cutting unnecessary computer replacement.

“We desperately need someone here cross-trained to be able to do each individual job in the office,” Lee told the committee Tuesday. “None of them are the same. Every job here is different.”

“This person would have to be multitalented. Due you have anybody in mind?” DeWitte asked.

“No. Especially at that price,” Lee replied.

“You're looking for somebody who can do just about anything for nothing,” DeWitte said.

Finance Director Eric Buchanan noted that part-timer Evelyn Gladson has been a longtime “jack of all trades” in the mayor’s office.

“Obviously because of her age, we know we’re not going to have her forever,” Buchanan added. “So, if somebody else doesn’t start learning those things, when that day comes we’re going to be in trouble.”

Lee said although that position would be cross-trained to fill in for other staff members, the new employee won’t lack for something to do when the office is at full staff.

“There’s somebody working over every day in here,” Lee said.

Buchanan added that they’re busy any given time, but at budget time, the end of the fiscal year and the end of the calendar year, there aren’t enough hours in the day for the mayor’s staff to complete their work.

“There’s no shortage of (work) to share or pass out for help (when) we’re at full capacity,” Buchanan said. “This office is understaffed anyway. I know (retired facility manager) Alana (Roberts), when something else would come up, she would just take it on. Evelyn did the same thing, and she worked here a lot of time from 8 to 8. That was great, but at the same time that may have slowed us down on getting some more staff that we actually should have had a long time ago.”

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