County Commissioners further define pay policy with Families First Act

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Jefferson County Commissioners on Tuesday made some clarifications to their recently adopted personnel and pay policy in regards to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

This comes a week after commissioners voted to give a temporary or extraordinary pay raise to law enforcement, corrections officers, emergency operations personnel and health care professionals that work for the county. These employees will see a 50 percent increase for two weeks.

County Judge Jeff Branick said, in a telephone conversation after the meeting, there are three constable precincts involved in the emergency management mission that should be included in the new pay policy that weren’t previously identified. The county judge has discretion to say who is and isn’t on this list.

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Elected officials, he added, do not get the additional pay.

There is an emergency pay policy in place for instances when the courthouse is closed, such as during hurricanes. Currently it is not closed, but it’s operating on a skeleton crew.

The pandemic is a first for a county that has dealt with hurricanes and flooding, as well as November’s explosion at TPC Group Port Neches Operations. It was argued that the policy did not address the need for designated people to support the operation keeping the county running.

Precinct 4 Jefferson County Commissioner Everette “Bo” Alfred, who was the only dissenting vote, said premium pay should not be an amendment.

Alfred feels if premium pay is needed, it should come before the court on those specific occasions.

The amendment states “in any event where the is a declared disaster under Chapter 418 of the Government Code any closures notwithstanding, any employee assigned by the county judge and/or designated as essential by the county judge shall be eligible for the extraordinary/premium pay described in section III-C of this policy for all hours worked in support of emergency operations.”