A significant payout to a former county employee has commissioners questioning the current policy.
At the county Budget and Finance meeting Thursday night commissioners discussed the payout former assistant to the county executive Lauren Hennessee Sweeton will be receiving due to her unpaid PTO hours. The county has to pay her $8,566.
“This is $8,566 for County Executive’s budget. This falls under 103 assistant plus benefits social security and pensions. Lauren, before she left, built up how many hours of comp time Justin?” asked Commissioner Scott Rubley.
“She had over 200. It is a total of 305 hours of PTO that had to be paid out,” answered Finance Department director Justin Cotten.
“Which equates to $8,566 which we don’t have in the County Executive’s budget so this would be a general fund transfer. This is something we don’t have a choice in this we have to do it,” said Rubley.
Commissioner Carl D. Bouldin asked if there is a way to prevent this in the future.
“In the future, can this be cleared up annually?” asked Bouldin.
“If the county wanted to create that policy, yes. It is not currently in the county policy to do that, but I will say it will be an expensive venture to get into at this point,” said Cotten.
He explained that most positions do not require as many extra hours to be worked like the administrative assistant for the County Executive does. Cotten says the legal limit is 240 hours.
“So if we clean it up, it would give them more hours actually in the end?” asked Bouldin.
“Yes,” said Cotten. “To stop this specific problem without a countywide policy change, we would just need to establish a line item to cover the payout of comp time upon departure.”
Paying the $8,566 is the only option unless the county wanted to keep the position vacant.
“The alternative boils down to leaving the position open and empty until we’ve earned that time back, or do this and out money in the budget to cover it,” said Cotten.
The committee unanimously approved the payout.