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    Left to right, Precinct 1 Commissioner Gary Oliver, County Judge Keith Umphress, and Precinct 4 Commissioner Terry Ward talk about potential extra pay for county employees during the COVID-19 outbreak. Photo/Brian Smith

No action taken on extra pay for county employees

Jack County Commissioners opted to take no action on potentially adding COVID-19 hazard pay for county employees during Monday morning’s regular meeting.

County Judge Keith Umphress said many of the 73 county employees such as Sheriff’s Department, jail employees and road hands are out on the front lines doing work that needs to be done in a time of danger. Many are working extra hours with an enhanced exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

Much of the discussion came from who should get the money and how much should be given. Umphress suggested having department heads determine who gets the money on some form of a tier system.

“In these times, we need to make our employees know they’re appreciated,” Umphress said. “Times are tough for businesses and employees would like to see (additional money).”

Precinct 1 Commissioner Gary Oliver said with the economy in dire straits, he had issues with spending money.

“I don’t know if I’m 100% for it.” Oliver said. “I’m fearing we would be setting some kind of precedent. If we set it, how long would it last?”

Oliver suggested doing it in a separate check like a bonus. Precinct 4 Commissioner Terry Ward opted for a wait and see approach to see what kind of monies the federal government was giving back.

Umphress said of the $1 the county would spend, it would get as much as 75% back from the federal government. The county would need to spend at least $36,000 before getting federal money, Umphress said.

 The court had problems deciding whether it would be a one-time payment for everyone, or if it would go on for the length of the state of emergency which went into effect March 23. 

Precinct 2 Commissioner James Brock said the county needed to do something for their employees. Precinct 3 Commissioner Henry Birdwell asked if Umphress contacted any other county judges to see what they are doing in this situation. Oliver said even if commissioners took no action at the present time, it could always comes back and revisit the idea.

The agenda item happened after Country Treasurer Brad Campsey told the court there was no revenue coming into the county. 

“Oil and cattle monies are way down right now, so we’ve got watch what we have coming in,” Campsey said. 

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