Still no deal on OCSO Union Contract
After a brief closed door session Monday during a Commissioners Court meeting, it was announced there will still not be any action taken on the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Union Contract.
During a previous meeting, Orange County Judge Carl Thibodeaux said they were trying to avoid taking the issue to arbitration. He also said the county has proposed no more sick leave buy-backs, holiday pay does not count toward overtime pay and certification pay will be limited to 17 SWAT members and 10 instructors. In addition, the sheriff’s office must pay 60 percent of their dependent coverage for medical insurance costs instead of the current 40 percent. Sixty percent is what other county employees costs are currently. The Evergreen Clause will be for 30 days and the “just cause clause” will remain in effect for one year. But, they will continue to discuss the clause further over the course of the year.
Commissioners voted to not fill a vacant custodian position in the maintenance department. The motion was about to pass when Pct. 3 Commissioner John Banken wanted to open the issue for discussion. Banken stated commissioners made a pledge to the citizens of Orange County to work on the budget deficit and come up with a solution within the next few months.
His remarks were met with opposition from Mark Wimberly, of the maintenance department, who said the position was the “bottom of the barrel” and would not make much of an impact on the budget problems. He added the former employee job duties included cleaning the bathrooms at the sub-courthouse in Vidor.
Banken countered by saying, “I have talked to department heads about cleaning their own offices.”
He added, “Every department head in this county knows we have to cut expenditures.”
Banken also said there are planned workshops in the future to discuss the budget cutbacks further and for all departments to work together as a team.
“I never said we would never replace the position, just not at this time,” Banken said. “When things get better, we can discuss replacing these people.”
Wimberly asked for direction on how to handle the cleaning of the bathrooms in the county. He was told to review his employees and make the necessary changes in their job descriptions.
Orange County Sheriff Keith Merritt asked about the two job vacancies at the sheriff’s office. He was told to put the item on the agenda but it too may be denied.
Commissioners took action regarding a policy and giving the Road and Bridge Department the direction in regards to the safety issues of children. Pct. 2 Commissioner Owen Burton asked the court to consider signs to be placed along the roadways “Watch for Children.” He stated within his precinct the narrow roads and the raised speed limits were a hazard to the children who were standing along the roads waiting on school buses.
He also suggested in order to save money, the signs should be posted below the speed limit signs. This would save the costs of the post and on mowing around any additional posts.
Merritt said from the point of view from law enforcement, the additional sign on the posts could serve as a distraction to drivers.
In the end, a motion was made to install the signs after Orange County Doug Manning checks to see if the action is not prohibited by law. If it is prohibited, then an additional post will be placed at specific locations.
In other county business, Jeff Kelley, director of Emergency Management, was presented with a framed Advanced Professional Development Series Certificate. The certificate was issued by FEMA to represent the highest level of education and honor.