Personnel Board, Employee Manual Draws Crowd at Commissioners Meeting

Personnel Board, Employee Manual Draws Crowd at Commissioners Meeting
(KNEB/RRN)
December 7th, 2021 | Scott Miller

Scotts Bluff County employees packed Monday’s night’s meeting as the panel took up a discussion of the County Personnel Board and Personnel Manual, prompted in part by frustration among Commissioners over abruptly issued federal holidays the past several years.

Attorney Kyle Long, asked by the Board to look into state law on the issue, told the panel the personnel board’s current composition was out of compliance with state law, and there were several options to correct the issue, including elimination of the board.

Tim White spoke against that idea, and said many of his county staff peers feared what would happen if the personnel board was terminated. “Without something, checks and balances in between, I worry some staff may see it as something against them that comes from the Commissioners. That’s not what we want, a personnel board puts somebody in between us,” said White. “In my mind, I keep saying it’s similar to union but not quite the same. You know, you have a certain group of people that speak for you or what policies you want to see changed, and it’s up to you guys to make the ultimate decision.”

Long told Commissioners that under state law, the personnel board for the county was permissive, meaning it was not a requirement. He said however, with such a panel already in place, changes to the personnel manual had to come from the personnel board, and elimination of the panel would also mean personnel policies would have to be re-worked from scratch.

While some who spoke expressed concerns that Commissioners did not support them or appreciate their efforts, Chair Ken Meyer said nothing could be further from the truth. “I see this board has appreciated everybody in this room, and everybody else who’s not,” said Meyer. “We know how hard everybody works. And we know the challenges that you come upon as employees, whether it be pay increases, or the particular job that you’re doing, we do everything in our power to make sure that everybody is taking care. And I don’t think anybody would disagree with that statement.”

Commissioner Mark Harris was directly criticized for his stance, and he readily admitted he has pushed the paid holidays issue since coming to the board, saying the county has to have some maximum boundary on the subject given the impact on the public and how private employers handle the issue.

Following nearly two hours of discussion, no action was taken by commissioners, but Meyer said it was clear the personnel board composition had to be corrected before any further consideration of the personnel manual, paid holidays or any other such matter could be taken up.

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