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“I AM NOT SAYING WE ARE ANY MORE SPECIAL THAN ANY OTHER DEPARTMENT, BUT WE DAMN SURE ARE.”
Frio County commissioners have unanimously approved an employee benefit program that would buy back personal time off (PTO) earned by sheriff’s office employees.
The Tuesday, December 13, decision by the court came after Chief Deputy Peter Salinas presented a two-page policy outlining requirements for the cash payment in lieu of loss of earned accrued PTO.
“The main point on this policy is these are earned wages that are going to be lost,” the chief deputy said. “You can only carry over forty hours, so you eliminate the hours that you earned because you were not able to make it happen.”
According to the policy filed at the sheriff’s office, employees must have a minimum of a two-year tenure with the department and the county will only buy back up to 80 hours annually. An additional stipulation requires that the employee maintain a balance of 40 hours after the buyback.
Frio County Auditor Crystal Marquez noted that the $13,800 currently required for the policy would be pulled from two budgets, the sheriff’s and jail.
“You have sheriff deputies, one dispatcher and one maintenance worker who qualify and that will come from the sheriff’s budget,” the auditor said. “The three jailers will come from the jail budget.”
Marquez noted that $11,454 will come from the sheriff’s budget and $2,300 from the jail.
Commissioners quizzed the auditor on which line item the monies would be pulled from to pay back the employees.
“Right now, out of salaries,” Marquez said. “Normally, when we pay out of vacation or comp time that is where it comes out of it. I am one hundred percent sure we will probably, by end of budget, we will have to find additional monies, because we did not budget to do pay outs.”
According to the auditor, the only way to recoup the $13,000 would be if the sheriff’s office has positions it is unable to fill.
The policy only pertains to employees at the sheriff’s office.
“I think the sheriff’s office comes into place on this because we run seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day,” Sheriff Mike Morse said. “We cannot just say, ‘I am not going to go in today.’ I am not saying we are any more special than any other department, but we damn sure are.”