Commissioner Stanley Tuttle placed the question on policy on the agenda, saying the action was done without commissioners court approval.
Tuttle praised the Refugio High School Bobcats for making it to the state playoffs, but he said that Thursday, Dec. 19, was not an approved holiday.
“We need to follow policies and procedures. That Thursday was not approved by the court,” he said.
After the Bobcats won their game on the previous Thursday, there was time to call a commissioners court meeting before the next Thursday, the day of the game.
Tuttle said employees should have taken vacation or comp time, but instead, they were given a paid day off.
He said that cost the county about $23,000 for the day with benefits.
County Judge Rene Mascorro said he checked with John Fuller with the Texas Association of Counties before telling the county’s department heads to close for the day.
“I did nothing illegal, and I would do it again,” Mascorro said.
Commissioner Gary Bourland said the court cannot regulate an elected official, that any elected official can close their office.
Tuttle reiterated that the time off has to be vacation or comp time or time off without pay.
Commissioner Ann Lopez said giving employees the day off was about service to the public.
“I would like to see some kind of policy if it comes up again,” Tuttle said.
Mascorro suggested doing away with the Columbus Day holiday and create a “floating holiday” in its place.
Commissioner Rod Bernal said he thought the idea of a floating holiday was a good one. Other elected officials agreed.
“Did any of the employees complain they were off that day?” Mascorro asked.
County Attorney Todd Steele said the immediate problem is creating an abbreviation for the reason for the time off on the time sheet, adding that there was not a section or abbreviation for such an event.
He said an amendment to the time sheet was in order.
Tuttle asked, if he wanted to work the day the courthouse departments were closed, could he?
Steele said yes.
But a question of fairness arises, when some employees work and some get the day off with pay.
Bourland agreed that a floating holiday would help resolve the problem of additional time off during special events.
The court agreed to discuss the floating holiday idea during its next budget talks.