Commissioners defend extra time off to employees

David Bruns, Precinct 4 commissioner, explains that it was his decision to give his employees the workday before July 4 off despite the court’s prior vote that it was not a holiday. 

GOLIAD – The money managers of Goliad County are questioning commissioners on their awarding of time off to employees.

Auditor Rusty Friedrichs is voicing concern over the amount of comp time being paid to employees in three of four precincts. A majority of the compensatory time being given to these employees is said to have been accrued because they did not take a lunch.

Friedrichs, disputing the legitimacy of this time, points to the payroll of Precincts 1,2 and 4 as to where this occurring.

“According to this policy, we are only paid comp time during emergency situations,” Friedrichs said during a Monday evening commissioners court meeting July 13.

Commissioner David Bruns countered saying, “When I give them a working lunch, it is because they work not all the way through lunch, they do stop a little bit to eat, but it is usually when we are doing roadwork or mowing.

“Now we are putting in culverts where we had the road blocked and we are trying to finish the work.

“When we shut down the road for mowing, these guys keep going the whole day. 

“When we were rebuilding roads last year, we put in 12-hour days. 

“We have to finish the job we are doing that day. A working lunch means they did not take 30 minutes off. Do they eat a sandwich? Yes.

“But they do not go back to the yard and sit in the air conditioning.”

Friedrichs countered saying, “What about the time your employees took a working lunch and they were at DQ eating?”

Bruns responded. “When did I do this?”

“I will bring it to the next court meeting,” Friedrichs said.

Commissioner Kenneth Edwards reminded that while the comp time is accrued at a rate of time and half, it doesn’t increase the payroll budget unless the employee quits or is fired and the time is paid out.

“The paycheck these guys get, whether they work four hours of comp time or 40 hours regular time, there is no extra money in that,” Edwards said. “My budget is the same at the end of the year whether they have taken comp time or not. The only thing I am losing is time.”

An extra day off

Treasurer Brian Howard questioned why one commissioner was permitted to give his employees July 2, a date clarified after the meeting, as a paid day off when the court voted not to have that as a holiday.

“It was the consensus that for July 2, the employee was going to be responsible for using comp or vacation time (to have the day off),” Howard said referring back to prior court meeting.

It was Bruns again on the defense saying that he argued against this decision on Sept. 23, 2019. He maintained that since the Fourth of July was a Saturday and employees were naturally off that Friday because of their 10-hour workday, these employees should be given that Thursday off. 

Court records show that Bruns voted, along with the other three commissioners, to pass the work schedule which would have not given employees this holiday. 

Court minutes from the 2019 meeting reflected that all four commissioners gave affirming votes to the county work schedule which included shifting that day off to the Christmas holiday.

Instead, he used another method to give his employees the time off he felt they deserved.

“We have administrative leave now,” Bruns said. “We didn’t have that before the hurricane.”

Howard countered, “Administrative leave is being abused.”

Bruns responded, “That is the first time I have used it.”

“If you give administrative leave, it becomes a holiday,” Howard interjected. “You are circumventing the system. 

“Giving them administrative leave is giving them another day of vacation that they have not earned.”

Bruns responded, “They haven’t earned it? Why don’t you go out there in this 104 degree weather?

“My choice was to give them administrative leave as a recognition of the July 4th holiday.”

Bruns added that he also gave the regular workday before July 4 to the employees of his own business.

“I didn’t do anything different in county business than I did in my private business,” Bruns said. “I was not hypocritical.”

Nothing was settled that evening regarding the use of comp time and administrative leave.

Jason Collins is the editor at the Goliad Advance-Guard and can be reached at 361-343-5221, or at editor@mySouTex.com.

Recommended for you