Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins was mighty proud of himself on February 1, 2011: While everyone else 'round town was bundling up and staying in thanks to the cabin-fever-inducing ice storm, Dallas County remained open for business. (No doubt Jenkins pressed ahead with commissioners court that morning to cut down the number of mad-as-hell Bruce Sherbet supporters willing to risk life and limb.) In the end, the county only shuttered for a single day: February 4, when the ice gave way to snow.
Per an item on tomorrow's commissioners court agenda that single-day shutdown came "a cost of $512,000." But, writes Jenkins, other county offices did close during the ice storm, and that too had a price tag: "Last year, Dallas County spent an additional $468,000 in inclement weather pay for the hours not worked by employees due to office closure by independently elected officials." And while the Texas Attorney General's Office has given those officials discretion to close their offices when they see fit, Jenkins wants the commissioners court to weigh in when doors are locked and for that time off to be counted against employees' comp or vacation time. As in:
When an elected county official closes his or her office due to inclement weather or other circumstances for a period that is normally a part of a regular work period, and intends to compensate those employees, the Office of Budget and Evaluation will: (1) notify Commissioners Court of the department that closed, (2) the reason(s) the department closed and (3) the cost of the department closure during the first posted meeting after the closure.
In order to reduce the monetary costs to the county, the Dallas County Commissioners Court requests that any time off from work granted by a county official due to office closure due to inclement weather or other circumstances be entered in the county's timekeeping system, Kronos, under the code "holiday."
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