Handbook remains point of contention in meeting

·4 min read

Jul. 27—Contention remains over the Woodward County handbook as officers discussed employment and retirement issues during a three-hour county commission meeting Monday.

Two items in the handbook have the officers at odds with each other; the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS).

FLSA establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards, according to the Department of Labor. In this respect, an audit done in May found only elected officials in Woodward County are exempt from overtime compensation.

OPERS provides and promotes comprehensive and financially sound retirement services. According to the OPERS manual, it is important to report the actual number of hours each employee worked for proper retirement service credit to be assigned.

The area of contingency lies in adjusting working hours to reflect retirement credit, or visa versa. Some employees work less than 40 hours a week but still receive retirement credit for the full 40 hours.

"The problem is, over the decades everything becomes automatic and nobody questions anything and nobody looks into anything," District 1 Commissioner Troy White said. "I know it's irritating to our elected officers when new people come in and wanting to question and propose new ideas, but it's not a bad thing because the world changes all the time"

The new county employee handbook contains both becoming FLSA compliant and adjusting employee retirement credit items to reflect actual hours worked. County Clerk Wendy Dunlap, District 2 Commissioner Clint White and Troy White voted to approve the handbook.

District 3 Commissioner Vernie Matt, Assessor Mistie Dunn, Treasurer Kim Bowers, Court Clerk Tammy Roberts and Sheriff Kevin Mitchell voted against approving the handbook.

District Attorney Christopher M. Boring suggested officials consider bringing in an employment law attorney to settle the issue.

"I'm out now. There's not a consensus. I cannot represent each one of you individually," Boring said. "But I will say this, the county needs to get together. You guys need to get together and this needs to be approved. Whatever it is. Because we need to have something for our employees to know what they're signing and what they're signed up for and what they're doing."

In addition, Clint White voted against approving the monthly payroll, which was approved by the other two commissioners.

"My conscience can't allow me to continue approving payroll until we get the OPERS credits right, so I'll move no, which includes my own payroll," Clint White said.

County officers discussed the employee insurance opt-out acceptance receiving a monthly amount in lieu of the flexible benefit allowance. No action was taken but a resolution will be made up to be voted on later. It was agreed to raise the allowance a percentage of the benefit.

An application for permit public pipeline crossing from Navigator Borger Express LLC oil pipeline in Districts 1 and 2 was approved for the following sections:

—Sections 3, 4, 5, and 6 in T20N R20W

—Sections 1, 12 and 18 in T20N R21W

—Sections 13, 19 and 10 in T20N R22W

—Sections 8 through 13, 17 and 18 in T21N R17W

—Section 30 T21N R18W

—Sections 25 through 29, 31, 32 and 36 in T21N R19W

—Sections 34, 35 and 36 in T21N R20W

"This pipeline has the potential to bring a lot of tax revenue to the county," Clint White said. "It is an 18 inch pipeline to transport crude oil to Borger, Texas to the refinery."

The board approved the OSU Extension contract and budget for fiscal year 2021-2022.

According to Extension Director Melanie Lynes-Matt, the only change in the contract or budget is a capital outlay expense the extension office is accruing to repair some problems with some of the fair building doors.

A certificate of compliance for Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority was tabled for Rantian LLC on 40 acres in District 2 at NE of NE Section 12 T20N R21W.

A resolution for depositing donation funds into Mutual Rural Fire Department account for fire fighting equipment was approved. According to Dunlap, all donations have to be approved through a resolution in order to be deposited.

The board approved an application for permit public service pipeline crossing for Woodward Plumbing (pipeline owner Eldon Merklin) in District 2 NS213 and EW49 for a water line, waiving fees.

Holidays for 2022 were approved, including the new federal Juneteenth holiday.

Three sealed bids for six-month contract hauling County-wide were tabled for tabulation from J&R Transport, Inc., Dustin Donley Construction Services, LLC and Pfeifer Trucking, Inc.

In new or unforeseen business, Dunlap informed the board the handicap access to the courthouse is broken with an estimated cost of $3,900 for repair. Commissioners agreed for her to get another estimate and have the repairs done as soon as possible.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting