Fannin County Commissioners keep full-time Emergency Management spot

BONHAM — A second go at deleting Fannin County’s full-time Emergency Management coordinator position from the list of approved positions and replacing it with two part-time spots failed Monday during a special meeting of the county commissioners.

County Judge Randy Moore brought the agenda item forward for the second time after it failed to find traction in last week’s Commissioners’ Court meeting because he felt the first request blindsided commissioners since calling each one about the specific item before a meeting may violate the state’s Open Meetings Act.

“Therefore, I hit everyone up here cold turkey last week. They had not seen this; it was just right out the barrel and that’s, in my opinion, that’s unfortunate,” Moore said. “I had several phone calls between then and Thursday morning that I felt like I should take another look at this.”

Moore’s suggestion to change the coordinator position would save the county money since the part-time positions, one for 26 hours a week and one for four hours, would not receive the full benefits of the full-time spot, and it may provide greater flexibility for hours worked. That’s because the part-time positions would be contracted to a specific amount of annual hours rather than conforming to a 40-hour work week, the county judge said.

Keith Whiteside, an applicant for one of the part-time positions, told commissioners the coordinator position is about establishing the right relationships and policies to ensure the county has a plan of action in the case of an emergency.

“You have to understand that as a coordinator, your job is to make sure that the county is prepared. … I’ve been doing this for over 23 years with the fire department. I’ve been involved with the training through CERT programs, and it’s all about the training. It’s all about prepping your people,” he said. “No way can one person do everything, nor should he or she be required to.”

If the county moved to make the coordinator spot part-time, Whiteside said he would focus first on communications within the county emergency departments, such as making sure all the volunteer fire departments can communicate via radio with the county as a whole. He would also set in place a chain of command to run an emergency situation command center and foster the relationships with the county’s other departments so the plan of action is followed.

Moore said the county could revert the position back to full-time if the part-time positions didn’t work out, however, the commissioners felt the role needed to remain full-time to ensure someone is there to run command when they are needed.

In other business, commissioners tackled several financial items of business, including an executive session discussion on a contract offered to the City of Bonham’s EMS service. Details of the contract were not discussed in open session, but Moore said it’s “a really good contract” that’s been sent to city officials for their review.

Commissioners also discussed 2020-21 positions and salaries in preparation for today’s meeting, during which the commissioners are expected to approve the same and their 2020-21 budget. Discussion included the possibility of including a one-time pay increase across the board, with one commissioner suggesting giving each employee $500 in December. Moore said there would need to be justification because it couldn’t be a bonus, and if it were offered as a performance award, commissioners would need a write up supporting each payment. Moore suggested the county instead increase pay 25 cents per hour, but the commissioner felt employees may not notice the extra money without it being a lump sum.

Moore directed county staff to work the additional money into the proposed budget up for consideration today.

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