Vote…on your time

Published 8:49 am Tuesday, June 23, 2009

JACKSON — National Election Day is no longer a paid holiday for county employees here.

Recently, the Board of Northampton County Commissioners approved the removal of National Election Day as a paid holiday and apply the average annual savings to yearly longevity payments to employees who have completed five years of service with the county.

The recommendation to remove National Election Day as a paid holiday came from the county’s Human Resources Advisory Committee.

County Manager Wayne Jenkins said Northampton County was the only government entity in the area that recognizes National Election Day as a county paid holiday and it costs taxpayers approximately $32,000 for each paid holiday.

“Frankly, it’s hard for me to explain to county taxpayers why they pay our employees to go and vote,” he said.

Jenkins noted the availability to vote for both employees and citizens. “We now have early voting on Saturdays, one stop voting, and the polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.,” said Jenkins.

“Sufficient time is given to county employees to do their civic duties.” The Human Resources Advisory Committee proposed to take the $8,000 annual savings and implement longevity payments of 1.5 percent to employees beginning their fifth year of service with the county.

Finance Officer Dot Vick calculated that to implement the benefit would cost the county approximately $8,200 annually.

The benefit will be funded in 2010 with excess funding already in the budget for health insurance costs.

Eighteen county department heads signed off on the decision paper and three did not (at the time one was on vacation, another was on leave and one forgot to sign the paper).

Commissioner Virginia Spruill noted the turnout for 2008’s National Election Day and asked how many county employees participated in the election. Jenkins said he didn’t know.

Spruill said she hoped citizens wouldn’t “get the wrong idea” as to who brought the recommendation to the board.

“This is not my idea, this is from the Human Resources Advisory Committee,” said Jenkins Commissioner James Hester motioned to approve the recommendation from the Human Resources Advisory Board; it was seconded by Commissioner Fannie Greene. The motion passed without objection.