The County Commission on Wednesday voted 6-3 to deny a request by Magistrate Larry Ables that he be able to cash out 787 hours of annual leave at this time.
He has been serving as chief magistrate. The commission recently retained him as a magistrate, but elevated Randy Russell to chief magistrate. The chief magistrate is paid $5,000 more than the other three magistrates.
County Attorney Rheubin Taylor said Magistrate Ables had computed that he would make $2,000 more if paid at this time for service since November 2008 rather than waiting later under the reduced pay level.
Personnel Director Leslie Longshore said for general county government employees the accumulated leave is based on the pay level when they leave the county. Attorney Taylor said he assumes that Magistrate Ables is going to continue working as a magistrate in the reduced role starting Nov. 1.
Commissioners had a number of questions about the request. Commissioner Tim Boyd said at 787 hours "you would have to believe that he didn't take a single day off." Ms. Longshore said there may have been some prior accumulated leave time, though she said leave is not transferred from the district attorney's office. Both she and Magistrate Ables formerly were in the DA's office.
Commissioner Joe Graham asked, "Who verified these hours?" Ms. Longshore said no payments would be made until they had all been verified.
Commissioner Jim Fields said he would not favor giving one benefit to one county employee that others do not receive (getting to count the accumulated leave at a higher rate before going to a lower rate).
Voting against the request were Commissioners Boyd, Fields, Graham, Chester Bankston, Warren Mackey and Larry Henry.
Commissioner Fred Skillern said he wanted to see the magistrates put on a strict timeclock. He said he was tired of "three-hour lunch breaks and going to civic club meetings" while on duty.
Ms. Longshore said the magistrates will be moving soon to a new Web Punch system whereby employees clock in and out on county computers. That will replace paper time sheets.
The commission passed a resolution saying that the magistrates must be on the timeclock and must clock out "each time they leave the premises."
The magistrates set bonds and sign warrants from an office at the county jail.