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Watson: Changes send bad signal to employees

KINGMAN - Board of Supervisors Chairman Gary Watson questioned the fairness of changing the county's Office of Management and Budget manager from a classified to unclassified positions without compensation Monday.

The Board voted 3 to 2 to change the position to unclassified. Watson and District 3 Supervisor Buster Johnson voted against the change.

Moving the position to unclassified status removes some of the workplace protections OMB Manager Gene Hepler had, such as the right to appeal a demotion, suspension or firing to the Mohave County Merit Commission.

"We need to follow some guidelines. We're taking something away from an employee," Watson said.

"I don't know how this makes the county any better," said District 3 Supervisor Buster Johnson. "Think about the message we are sending to employees. People need to know that things are stable."

"The only change we're making is who he reports to and his classification. I don't see a reason to change the range or pay for this position," District 5 Supervisor Steven Moss said.

"Generally, in a business, when you take away something from an employee, you give them some sort of compensation," Watson said.

Deputy County Civil Attorney Bill Ekstrom stated that the Board was within its rights to change the classifications and duties of any county position.

"I have a choice over whether I accept this or not," Hepler said. "I have a right to have a discussion about my pay. I just want to have a job and do my job."

"I have a problem increasing a person's pay when there's no change in their duties," said Brotherton. "I have to wonder why this position was classified to begin with."

Moss, along with District 4 Supervisor Joy Brotherton and District 2 Supervisor Hildy Angius, pushed for the Board to make some major changes to the county's organizational structure in March.

The Board moved three deputy county managers back to their positions as department heads, with no change in pay, fired another deputy county manager, and gave the Board the authority to hire or fire all department heads.

It also changed the county risk manager's position from a classified to an unclassified position.

Bob Prince, the county's security coordinator, was promoted to fill the position and received an increase in pay from $54,000 to $72,000.

The Board also:

• Approved a resolution protesting two Nevada Assembly bills. The bills could have a large impact on the Bullhead City/Laughlin area. The first bill, AB166, would charge Arizona residents who work in Nevada a $33 annual fee for driving their car in Nevada. The second bill, AB167, would charge Arizona business that drive their vehicles in Nevada on a regular basis an annual fee for each vehicle. The fees are $200 for the first vehicle and $150 for each additional vehicle. A person caught violating the law faces a $500 fine for the first offense and a $750 for each subsequent offense. The two bills have been sitting in the Nevada Assembly's Ways and Means Committee since April 24.

• Directed staff to look into using time clocks to keep track of county employees' hours

• Denied a request for a non-motorized trail near a flood control project in the Horizon Six area because of the lack of land and the steep slope of the wash channel.

• Approved a request for a trail near a flood control project in Meadview.

• Continued its discussion of creating a conflict of interest form for county employees to its May 20 meeting.

• Continued its discussion of an ordinance that would punish employees who knowingly lie to the Board to its May 20 meeting.

• Approved a joint workshop between the Board and the County Planning and Zoning Commission.

• Approved the justice of the peace voting districts.

• Continued discussion of an amendment to the county's contract with the Western Arizona Humane Society to run the county animal shelter to its May 20 meeting.


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