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Fayette policies reviewed


Author: Amy Karpinsky
Source: Herald-Standard
Date: September 21, 2005

Concerns about some of the policies included in the Fayette County employee policy and procedure manual arose Tuesday during discussions about revisions to the document at the commissioners' agenda meeting.

While Dave Rodgers, county human resource director, appeared at the Fayette County Commissioners agenda meeting to present addendums to the manual, he was met with objections regarding some of the items in the manual.

Rodgers was asking the commissioners to approve the addendums submitted by three departments when the discussion arose. Officials from Mental Health/Mental Retardation, Children and Youth Services and 911 departments presented the addendums. In July, Lisa Ferris-Kusniar, executive director of MH/MR asked for additional time to "crosswalk" the manual with the current policies used by her department. The manual states that the policies in it stand unless a union contract or civil service supercedes them.

Instead of seeking a motion to place the addendums to the manual on the agenda for Thursday's meeting, commission chairwoman Angela M. Zimmerlink spoke out against a policy in which employees can use a county vehicle for up to two weeks for a 15-mile radius if they are having a "personal hardship." Zimmerlink said she disagrees with the policy, and commissioner Vincent A. Vicites said he agreed that it should be taken out.

Rodgers pointed out that the vehicle usage policy was previously approved, but he added that it can be changed. Rodgers said he was given an Oct. 1 date for submission of the addendums, and he was trying to comply with that request so the commissioners could approve the addendums by that date if they wished.

Kusniar then spoke up and said that there were "shockers" in the manual that she didn't address because she felt she was only supposed to compare the manual with the current policies of the department.

Zimmerlink said it was her understanding that meetings had previously been held between Rodgers and all department heads regarding the manual, at which time the departments had an opportunity to voice concerns.

Kusniar said the meetings did occur, but she didn't raise the concerns she had, such as employees not being paid if there is a snow day and the offices are closed.

Rodgers then said he was surprised to hear there are still concerns, because he thought it was made clear that the concerns should have been raised before. A sampling of the department heads, including Dave Madison of CYS, Kusniar and Michelle Shumar of the Fayette County Office of Human and Community Services, revealed that none of them were completely satisfied with the manual.

Zimmerlink then suggested the motion to approve the addendums should be pulled off of Thursday's agenda until the issues can be resolved.

The commissioners also voted to place a motion on Thursday's agenda to award the bridge inspection services for the 61 county owned bridges.

The action was on last month's agenda but postponed after Zimmerlink expressed concerns that a pre-bid conference was not held for the bidders and she wanted to rebid the project.

Paul Nixon, head of the bridge department, said Tuesday the company handling the bridge inspections does not charge for inspecting 11 bridges and does not charge for consultation with county employees.

Fayette Engineering Co. Inc. of Uniontown has the contract for county bridge inspection services, and has held that contract since at least 1996.

Nixon said he did not make the other bidders aware the current bridge inspector provides free inspection of 11 bridges for free or that consultation services are provided at no charge.

Vicites said the contract needs to be adopted soon, or the state Department of Transportation will take over the bridge inspection from the county.

Nixon said the bridges should ideally be inspected by October or November before cold weather hits.

When Zimmerlink questioned why some of the proposals were lower that in the previous RFP (request for proposals), Nixon surmised that the firms were trying to bring in the lowest bid in hoping to get the job. Zimmerlink then jokingly suggested doing a third RFP to get the bids even lower.

According to county documentation, in 2001, the county approved a 30-month proposal in the amount of $155,286.85 from Fayette Engineering. The documentation also states that the county spent a total of $87,419.08 in 2004 on bridge inspection services.

The commissioners also voted to place on Thursday's agenda a motion to award a contract to replace the roof of the courthouse annex building and for the repair of the parapet of the building. The county set aside approximately $500,000 to do the project. Commissioner Joseph A. Hardy III has advocated undergoing a more extensive $15 million renovation project.