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A termination letter from February, which was later nullified by a vote of the Fiscal Court, serves as the yearly employee evaluation for Building Inspector Steve Clark, Judge-Executive Bill Karrer told magistrates Monday morning.
Magistrate Jerry Davis has brought up the issue of employee evaluations several times in recent Fiscal Court meetings, asking Karrer at a June meeting if an evaluation had been completed for Clark and a copy given to him as is spelled out in the county’s administrative code.
Karrer responded that it had been completed and that Clark had a copy.
Between that meeting and Monday’s meeting, Davis requested to view Clark’s evaluation and was given a copy of the termination letter dated Feb. 20, 2013.
Employee evaluations are not public documents, but can be inspected by the magistrates.
Karrer issued the letter to Clark on a Wednesday and his employment was terminated for three working days. Magistrates called a special meeting for the following Monday, Feb. 25, and all those present voted in favor of nullifying Karrer’s action.
Davis, magistrates Hobert Judd, Mike Moody and David Goodlett were present at that special meeting, along with County Treasurer Doug Williams and County Clerk Lynn Hesselbrock. Magistrate Woodie Cheek was out of town, as was County Attorney Ruth Hollan. Karrer was in town and his vehicle could be seen parked across the street from his office, but he did not attend the meeting.
At Monday’s meeting, Davis said that Clark’s termination letter couldn’t serve as an evaluation for a number of reasons, one being that the court unanimously voted to nullify it.
Karrer said the vote was not a unanimous vote of the court, inferring that the entire court was not present.
However, four members of the court make up a quorum and any action taken by a quorum is official action.
Davis pointed out that the action was approved by all present members of the court and said he couldn’t help it if Karrer chose not to walk across the street to the meeting.
Davis maintained that the Feb. 20 letter was not an employee evaluation.
“That is his evaluation,” Karrer said.
Moody interjected that the county’s administrative code includes a form to be used in employee evaluations and the letter did not adhere to that form.
“That is his evaluation,” Karrer repeated, offering no more information.
The county’s administrative code outlines, in Section 3.62, the timeline under which evaluations are to be completed (by March 31 each year) and lists the following elements to be considered: job proficiency, harmonious work relationships, absenteeism or tardiness, errors or accidents, failure to follow rules and regulations, relationships with the public and other.
The specific employee evaluation form begins on page 124 of the administrative code.
Karrer’s Feb. 20 letter to Clark reads:
“As of this date, Feb. 20, 2013, your services with the county of Spencer and Spencer County Fiscal Court are no longer needed. You[r] employment with Spencer County Fiscal Court is hereby terminated.”
The letter, again however, was nullified by a 4-0 vote at special meeting of the Fiscal Court, and Clark has been working in the building inspector capacity since shortly after the vote was taken.
Davis questions purchase order system
The discussion regarding Clark’s evaluation came after Davis questioned another Spencer County ordinance (the administrative code is an ordinance), which established fee-pooling and purchase order systems for the county clerk and sheriff’s offices.
Davis read aloud parts of Section III of Ordinance No. 14 (2011 Series), specifically regarding the approval of purchase orders.
Section III, paragraph 5 states that all purchase order requisitions over $200 must be approved by the Fiscal Court.
However, Davis said he has yet to see a purchase order come before the court.
Karrer stated that as long as an item is included in the department’s budget, which is approved by the Fiscal Court, a second approval of the individual purchase orders is not needed.
“If money is approved in the budget, if it’s in a line item, you’ve given permission,” Karrer said.
Davis became frustrated, saying that this situation was just like when he brings up issues from the administrative code.
“Nothing is ever upheld,” Davis said. “It’s always shot down. By law, we had to create [the administrative code], but I guess, by law we don’t have to follow it?”
“We are following it,” Karrer responded.
Davis then made a motion for the county attorney to file with the courts an action to make the Spencer County ordinances be enforced.
No one seconded the motion, but discussion continued.
“It states pretty plain we should be seeing these things (purchase orders) individually,” Moody said.
Judd said he thought the same until Karrer explained that he had had conversations with the Department for Local Government, which said that as long as the items are included in the budget, the court does not have to approve them individually.
Karrer then acknowledged some discrepancies in the administrative code, saying the situation was not unique and that state statutes exist that contradict each other.
“The admin code is being worked on,” Karrer said.
“Who’s working on it?” Goodlett asked.
Karrer explained that Cheek’s “group,” the committee tasked with reviewing the code, was working on it and that Karrer himself was researching different aspects of it.
Karrer noted that the county’s procedures, in particular the purchase order system, are looked at during yearly audits and the county has not been written up for incorrectly writing purchase orders.
Moody asked for the information from the DLG in writing, and Karrer said he would oblige that request.
The purchase order ordinance also requires that either the County Treasurer Doug Williams or the Deputy Judge-Executive Karen Curtsinger sign off on purchase orders.
Asked by Davis if he had ever signed off on a purchase order, Williams said he had not.
Karrer said that Curtsinger typically signed the purchase orders, but Davis questioned that statement.
After that discussion, the court was reminded Davis had a motion on the floor. However, that motion died for lack of a second.