Quorum Court increases paid holidays from 11 to 18 per year.
Against the advise of Phillips County Judge Clark Hall, the Phillips County Quorum Court passed an Ordinance increasing county employee paid holidays from 11 to 18 per year, during the Tuesday, October 9, 2018 meeting held in the Phillips County Courthouse in Helena.
The passage of this Ordinance creates potential legal issues for the Quorum Court, and will cause the county to spend well over $57,000 on these additional paid holidays with no return.
Judge Hall stated he would rather see an across the board pay raise, than to pay taxpayers money for additional paid holidays. He also told the Court he was all for the county employees, but that in his opinion, this was not the way to go. However, the Quorum Court seemed to be determined to pass this Ordinance. Though the roll call vote was not unanimous.
Judge Hall went on to remind the court, that future tough financial decisions were coming soon. That state turn back money was going to be up to possibly $200,000 less, with the drop in population. He also reminded the court that about $300,000 was going to have to be spent in the early stages of building the new jail.
An existing issue at the Phillips County Courthouse is county administrative offices being closed on non holidays, where citizens are unable to assess their vehicles or do business with the county offices, or local and out of town attorneys being unable to file on days that other Courthouse offices across the state are open.
“I have been informed by Legislative Audit and the Association of Arkansas Counties, that employees cannot be paid for days not worked that are not official County holidays, unless the employees have accrued enough vacation leave or sick leave, if the employee qualifies to use sick leave,” said Judge Hall. “I will not sign off on this. I will not knowingly do anything illegal.”
The county elected officials and employees have been taking these paid days off in past years. However, Judge Hall learned that this is illegal, under state labor laws.
Judge Hall explained to the Court, that he has been advised that paying employees for days not work is against the law, and the County will be held accountable by the auditors. Regardless of this, the court passed the ordinance.
Just before the court was to adjourn, a court member attempted to introduce an amendment, that was not on the agenda, to make the newly passed Ordinance retroactive to pay county employees for October 5th and 8th. Judge Hall and Quorum Court Attorney Amy Boyd explained that the amendment would not put the court on legal grounds to pay those non-working days as holidays. The court member then withdrew the amendment for consideration and the meeting adjourned.