Deputies get new pay period; new radios coming by mid-November

Clay County human resources director Treva Hodge discusses issues with Clay County supervisors during Thursday's meeting.
Staff Writer

A change in the way Clay County Sheriff's deputies are paid should improve coverage and streamline payrolls, Sheriff Eddie Scott told supervisors Thursday.

Instead of being paid twice a month, deputies will go on a two-week work schedule, meaning they'll be paid 26 times a year rather than 24 like other county workers.

The new schedule will start Oct. 1. They'll be paid on the Wednesday following the last Sunday of the pay period.

"It'll be a smoother process," Treva Hodge, the county's 911 and human resources director, told supervisors.

"The big problem right now is deputies are having to estimate how many hours they were going to work the last two or three days of the pay period. That's not always easy to do. And then Treva was having to go back the next period and adjust," Scott explained. "It fits more what deputies are used to."

The change does not apply to clerical staff in the department or jailers.

An exception in federal labor rules allows law enforcement and firefighters to work 86 hours in a two-week period before receiving overtime. This new pay period will bring that into play, Hodge noted, adding it will provide some flexibility to Scott's scheduling ability.

Deputies also will go from 10-hour shifts to 12-hour shifts, improving manpower distribution, Scott said.

"That will improve coverage. Right now, we sometimes have people on standby in case we get calls, but this will allow us to have people on the road all the time," Scott stated.

In other business Thursday, Clay County supervisors:

-- Learned the Sheriff's Department will formalize its operating agreement with the MSWIN statewide radio system. When installed and operational possibly as early as mid-November, the new system will give deputies, volunteer firefighters and other agencies improved radio coverage across the county and better inter-agency communication;

-- Authorized Emergency Management Director Torrey Williams to apply for a state grant for two tornado warning sirens. The state would provide 75 percent of the cost and the county and city of West Point would split 25 percent. The sirens cost $22,000 each, putting the 25 percent match at $5,609 for one radio, said Williams, who noted he originally wanted to apply for as many as five of the devices to fill in more areas of the county but was told by grant organizers he had a "slim chance" of getting that many.

-- Authorized the county to participate with as many as 10 other counties in the region on a regional hazardous mitigation plan. The state will pay most of the cost of updating the current plan. The last time the project was done, the city and county split the $990 local match requirement;

-- Agreed to participate again in the USDA beaver control program at a cost of $7,500 a year, half of which is paid by the Tombigbee River Valley Water Management District;

-- Approved providing room and per diem costs for state inspection teams that will do a two-day mock inspection of the Clay County Jail and Sheriff's Department as part of the agency's efforts to earn accreditation. After the team provides its report from the visit Nov. 6-7, they'll be back for a formal visit early next year. The department would be one of only six accredited in the state. Oktibbeha County Sheriff's Department is one of those. Accreditation could qualify the county for lower liability insurance premiums and provide defenses against lawsuits. "We're very excited about it. Our folks have put in a lot of hard work during the last two years getting to this point," Scott told supervisors;

-- Heard a presentation from American Municipal Services about collecting unpaid fines and fees in Justice Court. The company contracts with city and justice courts in several Mississippi communities, charging a 25 percent fee on top of the fine owed making it a "free" service for the local government, the company representative said. Clay County Justice Court already contracts with a collection agency but nothing has been done with that company because of confusion over who is supposed to provide the information on who owes what fines. The company and justice court officials will return to Monday's meeting to further discuss the issue with supervisors.