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Union, county scrap again

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — January 11, 2011 — Repeating a quote she had made to the Democrat earlier in the week, Teamsters Local 445 Business Agent Sandy Shaddock told legislators on Thursday that some county employees are working through their lunch and coffee breaks in order to get their work done.
Shaddock, who represents about 650 unionized county workers, was making a point at the Legislature’s Health and Family Services Committee about the ongoing battle between the unions and the county over now-in-effect wage and longevity bonus freezes.
Her words sparked a quick response from County Manager David Fanslau, who worried that such break-work might violate the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
“FLSA requires that the employer shall not permit employees that are not tax-exempt from the FLSA to perform any work for the employer without being properly compensated,” Fanslau wrote in a memo distributed later that day to commissioners, department heads and elected county officers.
Though no grievance about working without compensation has been filed by the Teamsters, Fanslau felt compelled to require those responsible for county staff to certify they are in compliance with FLSA.
Yesterday, Fanslau said he had received the desired assurances that no one is working through their breaks without being compensated.
However, some employees are not punching in and out on their timeclocks during lunch. Fanslau said that could change.
“I may consider permitting those department heads that may want to employ that tool to do so on a department by department basis,” he explained, “as the department head is certifying payroll and compliance with FLSA regulations for their subordinate employees.”
Shaddock could not be reached at press time yesterday for comment.
County seeks to recoup funds
Evidencing the county’s drive to offset its dwindling revenues, legislators on Thursday agreed to commence litigation against two overdue agribusiness loan recipients and settle with another.
Pending acceptance by the full Legislature on January 20, the County Attorney’s Office will attempt to recover $22,843.33 in the loan and interest/penalties from Violet Hill Farm and $28,342.31 in the loan and interest/penalties from Maple Hill Farm.
Violet Hill Farm got a $23,264.27 loan from the county’s Agri-Business Micro-Enterprise Loan Program about six years ago but has only paid back just over $4,000 to date.
Maple Hill Farm received a $45,000 loan from the same program and has paid back $26,390.62 to date.
Both borrowers, read the resolutions, have stopped responding to communications from the county.
On the other hand, Trees of the Woods has been working with the county to settle the remaining debt on its $30,000 loan, and legislators agreed to accept $9,500 from the company, with about half that amount already paid and the other half due by June 1.
Litigation will be commenced, however, if that payment is not received.
More transparency coming
Recalling Rock Hill resident Dave Colavito’s request for more transparency on Industrial Development Agency (IDA) activities, Legislator David Sager asked IDA Executive Director Jennifer Brylinski on Thursday where that effort stood.
“I can enlarge my website to put more of this information on it,” she replied during the Community and Economic Development Committee meeting. “... I don’t have a problem with that.”
Legislators agreed that move was warranted, directing Brylinski to offer it in an easy-to-understand format. Brylinski said she’d have it ready in about two weeks.
Ostensibly, the info will show the benefits and tax incentives the IDA bestows on particular projects, and how much those projects return to the taxpayers in the form of jobs and business impacts.
“I think a lot of people will be surprised at how much performance has been done,” predicted Legislator Elwin Wood, who chairs the IDA’s board.
Sager hoped so.
“Private-public partnerships are meant to benefit both parties, not one,” he remarked.
EMS board stalls
Albee Bockman, who is the Legislature’s liaison on EMS (emergency medical services), attended Thursday’s Public Safety Committee to note the EMS Advisory Board’s frustration with the continuing lack of bylaws, which must be approved by legislators.
In fact, he said, the board cancelled its meeting that evening in protest.
“Some issues with the bylaws have to do with whether they can be legalized,” explained Legislator Leni Binder, referring to concerns over how they’d fit under the county’s existing administrative code.
“Do understand we cannot resolve these issues unless we’re included,” replied Bockman, who urged movement “because we’re losing the interest by frustration alone.”
Fanslau felt the board could meet without its bylaws in place, but Binder said she’ll set up a meeting to “sit down and rehash out the issues.”
“We have things to really talk about to improve your EMS service,” Bockman urged.

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