Sutton County Clerk Rachel Duran objected to a proposed biometric employee clock in system during a meeting of the commissioners Monday, September 23.

Duran said the new method doesn’t work for her employees.

Commissioners met to further discuss the new system agreement with Time Clock Plus which they approved September 9, set policy and implement new employee pay procedures as well as wrap up other business matters for the month.

The county’s new payroll plan includes the requirement of all non-exempt employees, those who are not elected or salaried, to clock in via thumb recognition using a computer or cell phone.

As with the current system, department heads retain sign off authority on employees’ hours now being recorded electronically.

County Treasurer Janell Schniers said the system will speed up payments to workers, increase accuracy by ensuring people get paid for the time they work and eliminate “illegal” signing of time sheets by department heads.

Duran explained that, under the current system, her office employees - classified as hourly - actually work 37.5 hours per week. However, they are compensated for 40 hours per week. 

Under the new system, they would be paid only for actual hours recorded. 

“On the working less than 40, obviously this is only to this building,” Duran said. “I’m gonna say that I can assume that when I started working here in 2000, I was salaried and that argument was proven to me twice. Sophia - I hired her hourly and now Cindy. When Janalyn was figuring her pay, she wanted her to go ahead and put in for the whole week and I said no she hasn’t worked those two days. Well it’s just easier to put them salaried anyway. There’s two extra pay periods during the year that she’ll make it up. “So, for y’all to knit pick and say well y’all only work 37.5 hours. Janalyn did it. Joyce did. And, their predecessors assumed everybody was salaried because it was easier. There was not a system to have a lag where you could properly accommodate coming in and going out. And if it’s an issue, well I’ve heard that too.”

As with any change, County Judge Steve Smith said he anticipated some issues. 

At the recommendation of County Attorney David Wallace, Smith along with Treasurer Janell Schneirs and Auditor Maura Weingart consulted a board-certified labor lawyer.

In short, Duran’s employees do not meet the qualifications for exemption and will be compensated according to the guidelines under the new pay system. 

Further, there are two additional county employees who will be similarly affected by the new pay system. 

Duran rebuked a recommendation by Commissioner Carl Teaff to set office hours from 8 to 5 which would remedy the problem. As well, she was not in favor of a recommendation from Attorney David Wallace. 

Wallace recommended grandfathering Duran’s workers for a one-year period, as well as two other county employees, who get paid as if they are working 40 hours, but only work 37.5 hours. 

They will clock in to show their actual hours and it gives the commissioners time to think about how to adjust their compensation.

“Why don’t you just leave us alone,” Duran insisted. “We wear five different hats. My staff gets paid the same as everybody else across the board.”
Attempting to diffuse the conversation, Treasurer Schniers said, “Look, I don’t know what the answer is, but since I’ve come into office I’m hearing from Rachel and Steve and the ones who are signing these illegal time sheets. Somebody’s gotta give somewhere to make this happen. Y’all have talked about doing this for a long time and now we are putting it on the table and nobody wants to give.”

In agreement Commissioner Teaff remarked, “We need to get it right and now is the time to do it.”

Looking to move forward, the commissioners voted unanimously to adopt the time clock procedure and grandfather four employees as discussed for 2019-2020 budget year. 

With this there will be 26 pay periods including a lag. The new pay system goes into effect this November 2019. 

In other matters, commissioners approved a contract with Liberty Concrete and Construction of San Angelo for the completion of work needed on the exterior of the Annex Building in the amount of $48,560. 

Additionally, they approved a request from the Sonora Lions Club to waive the rental fee for the Civic Center to hold their annual auction and fundraiser February 11, 2020. Also approved was the County Choice Silver Policy Retirement Supplement Plan, as well as an interlocal agreement with Burnet County for jail inmate services at a cost of $45 per day.

Commissioners also approved the nomination of Weingart to again serve as a member of the tax appraisal board, as well as a request by County Attorney Wallace to advertise for an assistant.

Regular housekeeping matters included approval of the Accounts Payable, Treasurer and Auditor reports and consolidation of the Constitutional Amendments election set for November 5.

In her report, Weingart pointed the expectation in rolling over a few line items from this fiscal year budget to the next.

The continuance is due to needing to fund projects approved, but not yet completed. Projects include $11,000 for a fire alarm for the library, $1,000 for a solar light to be located next to the court house and $30,000 expenses associated with repairs to the restrooms at the county park and Civic Center.
An overview presentation revealed overall positive findings from the annual outside audit.

Tax Assessor-Collector Kathy Marshall reported totals for vehicle titles and registration in the amount of $79,242.32 and property tax collection $12,521.93 for the month of August 2019. 

Of those amounts, the county retained $21,864.39 and $10,619.78 respectively.

Lastly, Judge Smith advised the court that the air conditioner at the Library and the water well at the County Park were not functioning. Commissioner Teaff suggested taking action on Allison Park, such as possibly selling it.

Without visitor comments or further discussion, the meeting was adjourned. 

Judge Steve Smith presided over the meeting. Commissioners Carl Teaff, Bob Brockman, Fred Perez and Mike Villanueva were present.
The next meeting of the Sutton County Commissioners is set for Tuesday, October 15, 2019, at 9:00 a.m. at the County Annex Building.