The Delaware County Commissioners discussed during a special meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 29, about the need to extend the courthouse hours.

Vicki Cossart, Human Resources Director spent more than an hour discussing work hours, family leave, calculation of overtime, comp time, state approved holidays, tobacco policy, health care benefits and courthouse security. 

No action was taken, by the commissioners. 

Cossart told them any changes to the courthouse handbook would have to be approved by the District Attorney’s office, voted on by the commissioners and elected officials and if passed could go into effect on Jan. 1.

“We need to clarify what is a 40-hour work week,” Cossart said.

Currently the courthouse is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and employees have two 15-minute breaks. 

Cossart explained that some employees combine their two 15-minute breaks with their 30-minute lunch hour, although the employees were being paid for a 40-hour work week, they were only working 37-and-a-half hours.

Cossart said some counties have been reprimanded of the practice, citing Grady County.

Grady County elected officials have been overpaid as much as $20,000 each per year prompting an investigative audit and the Grady County Excise Board to cut the salaries of the county's eight elected officials from about $80,000 a year to about $60,000 a year.

All three county commissioners expressed concerns about the work week hours and pay not lining up.

“This needs to stop immediately,” said Chairman Russell Martin, District 2 commissioner. “There is personal liability and its prosecutable.”

“It’s the perception, “said David Poindexter, District 1 commissioner.

The commissioners said their road crews work four 10-hour days, eat lunch on the road and typically do not take breaks.

An agreement was reached to increase the courthouse hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with an hour off for lunch and the required two 15-minute breaks. The issue was not voted on, but the commissioners said this was a “possible” solution.

The commissioners also decided to let the courthouse employees make their own choice on health care options.

Delaware County Sheriff Harlan Moore also addressed the commissioners about the lack of funding for the sheriff’s office.

The next meeting is 9 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 4 at the Delaware County Courthouse in the Commissioners’ Public Meeting room.