For the second time this month, McDuffie County commissioners have postponed a decision regarding the hiring of full-time personnel in the elections and tax assessors' offices.
Commissioners did, however, approve the hiring of a full-time person for a vacancy in the office of Probate Judge Valerie Burley during the Jan. 19 meeting at the courthouse in Thomson. Judge Burley said that the money to pay the new person already is in her budget.
The county has been under a hiring freeze since late last year when commissioners decided that was best with the state of the economy. At the time they took such action, they indicated there would be no one new hired or replaced unless they approved it.
Following motions by Commissioners Paul McCorkle and the Rev. Fred Favors their fellow commissioners approved of the judge advertising for the vacancy. They stipulated that the person hired be available from time to time to work in both the commissioner's office and Superior Court Clerk's office on an as needed basis. Some of the new person's work also is expected to involve answering the main courthouse telephone line and switching calls to appropriate offices.
"This is a way to combine some services and save a little money," McDuffie County Manager Don Norton said.
The other two department heads requesting to fill positions in their offices, Elections Director Phyllis Wheeler and Chief Tax Appraiser Linda Thurmond, were told to contact officials in counties about the size of McDuffie in reference to how many persons are staffed in their election and tax assessors' offices.
Ms. Wheeler and Mrs. Thurmond plan to have such figures available by the Feb. 3 commission meeting.
Mr. Norton explained that he had previously checked with several other counties, citing Warren, Jefferson and Burke and that they "seem to run pretty slim" from a staffing standpoint.
Ms. Wheeler is requesting a full-time employee, who would be trained and certified to handle certain duties pertaining to various election procedures. She said a full-time employee would be more beneficial to her, because of the workload.
"I'm the only certified person to do this work right now," Ms. Wheeler said. "There needs to be somebody else in place. If I'm not here, there is no backup at all."
Currently, Ms. Wheeler works every day full-time, along with another person.
Mr. Norton believes the elections official should use a service contract person, because it would be less costly.
Mrs. Thurmond, who recently replaced Katherine Perry as chief tax appraiser, said she is in need of a full-time clerical person. The new person would be responsible for serving as secretary to the McDuffie County Board of Tax Assessors and the Board of Equalization, according to Mrs. Thurmond.
The new chief tax appraiser pointed out that it was important to fill the position so that she could fulfill her goal of getting the tax digest out on time this year.
She added that her current staff has 3,000 pieces of property that need checking between now and May and she can't afford to have one of them serving as secretary, if she's to meet her goal of getting the tax digest out on time.
"I think we should do a study on the other counties first, because of our budget crunch," Mr. McCorkle said.