Easy decision: Give county employees Dec. 31 off

The Escambia County commissioners debated yesterday how to live up to the old commission’s vote (i.e. Gene Valentino, Wilson Robertson and Kevin White) to give all county employees a three-percent raise. “Crazy Uncle” Wilson was working behind-the-scenes to deny the raises for the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office—apparently he was upset that the sheriff’s wife joined in with others in opposition to Touart being in the interim county administrator. The others were trying to figure out how to come up with over $3 million.

A buy-back program, in which employees get paid for their accrued leave, was proposed with a price tag of $1.4 million, about half the cost of the 3 percent raises. However, that mostly rewards the upper-level salaried staff, who take off time, leave early or show up late for work but never apply it towards their personal leave. The hourly employees don’t have that luxury because they are always on the clock. If they take off to see their child in a school play, they don’t get paid unless they use their personal leave,

The one proposal that made the most sense was to simply give the employees New Year’s Eve off. It costs the county nothing. The employees can save on day care. Commissioner Lumon May suggested it, but didn’t get any support.

The reality is the high-priced salaried employees won’t be working a full day. I doubt the county commissioners will either. It should be a light day.