published Monday, February 4th, 2013

Marion County workers to get bonuses

Marion County Mayor John Graham
Marion County Mayor John Graham
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

JASPER, Tenn. — Sixteen part-time workers at Marion County convenience centers did not receive a $500 holiday bonus paid to other county employees.

Last week, Marion County commissioners voted 12-2 to repair the omission, at a cost of $8,000.

County Mayor John Graham said he wasn't sure why those workers didn't get the money, but he remembered discussions in the Finance Committee about whether they should be included.

"The bottom line is that the convenience workers did not receive that one-time bonus," he said.

Finance Committee Chairman Don Adkins said the panel recommended the bonus be awarded and he assumed that would include all workers on the county payroll.

"We were doing this from the standpoint of anybody who was an employee of Marion County," he said.

Commissioner Wayne Willis, who voted no, said other county employees also were left out. He said making it up for the convenience workers without further discussion would set up the board for additional problems.

"You're going to be discriminating against some if you leave it like this," he said. "I'm telling you those are not the only people involved."

Graham agreed and said, "We need to delve into this a little bit further to make sure we're not starting a precedent."

For example, there are three "floater" workers who substitute at the convenience centers when needed, he said, and they probably don't make $500 per year.

"Sometimes they'll work a shift and then not work again for two or three weeks, so they're very limited on how many hours they work," Graham said. "I don't know if you'd consider them part-time workers."

Several commissioners argued that the issue needed to go to the Personnel Committee before the board voted.

"If we keep meeting in different committees, we're going to waste enough money to go ahead and give them the money anyway," Commissioner Louin Campbell said.

The time for discussion on the bonus already had passed since it had been given to other county employees, Commissioner Mack Reeves said.

"We've already opened the doors and let the horse out," he said. "We don't want to close the doors now. The Finance Committee voted for it and approved it, and I think the Personnel Committee needs to meet soon to write some guidelines."

"Somewhere, at some point, we're going to have to decide who gets it and who doesn't," commission Chairman Les Price said.

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