County Officials present 2024 budget proposals; discussion on changing how overtime is paid


The Drew County Quorum Court held a Finance Committee meeting at 5 p.m. on Monday, September 11.
This month's meeting was held primarily for the county's elected officials to present their proposed 2024 budgets. Charlie Searcy, County Treasurer, noted that these budgets would only cover expenses. Any discussion of salaries would be held until October or November.
Searcy said that before the county officials moved into presenting their budgets, there was one topic that needed to be discussed. There had been several court members who had discussed the possibility of moving overtime pay into a line item or slot, rather than leaving it in a pool. The proponents of this idea thought that this would allow for another system of checks and balances when budgeting. If someone were to be getting close to going over budget, having this new system should pop up a red flag so that the situation could be examined and resolved. Searcy noted that there had been some push back on the topic.
"I'm the push back," said County Judge Jessie Griffin. "My push back is two-fold. I manage my own budget. No one else can tell me what my expenses are. When I get outside of that budget, you need to corral me. You get my budget number every month, straight from the County Clerk's office. You didn't get that from the previous County Judge. If you put a limit or time frame on funds, what happens when we have another winter storm? How could I possibly come before the court to ask for additional funding when I can't know that a storm is coming? So now I've got employees not getting paid for their services if I'm over in the slot. They have to wait until we can meet again and appropriate funds to pay them rather than getting paid when their services were performed. I think I've done a good job managing the budget these last nine months."
Quorum Court member Frank Appleberry made a motion to implement the slot style in the Sheriff's Office only, as Sheriff Tim Nichols agreed to test it out. The idea was to give it a trial run in Nichols' office and revisit it to see if it would benefit the other elected officials.
The other elected officials who were present all indicated that they would be fine having overtime slots, as they don't typically have overtime in their offices.
Appleberry's motion was amended to implement slots in all departments except for the Road Department per Judge Griffin's request. The motion passed with Joe Williams being the only dissenting vote.
The county officials then presented their budget proposals, and the finance committee voted to adjourn to allow the grievance committee to meet.