Mohave County finally settles on paid time off changes

Issue debated since last summer; some thought policy too generous

KINGMAN - New employees of Mohave County will accrue 4.62 hours of paid time off per pay period during their first two years on the job, a reduction from 8 hours of accrual in the first year for current employees, the Board of Supervisors decided Monday.

Also, carryover and severance PTO cannot exceed 300 hours a year for new employees, down from 900 hours of carryover and 400 to 600 hours for severance payout, depending on job classification.

The board voted 4-1 Monday, with Supervisor Buster Johnson opposed, to adopt the recommendation for the new employee policy. The new system starts in the pay period of Jan. 23.

The recommendation is a combination of proposals from Supervisors Hildy Angius and Gary Watson.

The PTO issue has been debated since August, with Angius pushing for a change in policy to bring it more in line with private businesses.

Watson said the generous PTO package was needed as a recruiting tool for new employees.

The item was tabled from the board's Dec. 21 meeting and sent to Human Resources for clarification.

"I think we've got it now," Angius said Monday before making a motion to accept the recommended proposal.

Angius said the PTO policy was a financial and administrative challenge for the county, and she's happy the board agreed to change the policy.

"Since there were legal issues with changing PTO for current employees, we opted for a prudent course of action," she added. "Today's vote stops the bleeding for the future. I am still committed to explore all of our legal options concerning current benefits."

The new policy gives 4.62 hours of PTO per pay period for the first two years (120 hours a year); 6.15 hours for three to four years (160); 7.19 hours for years five through nine (185); 8.08 hours for years 10-14 (210); and 9.23 hours for 15 years or more (240).

Current PTO policy is eight hours for the first year (208); nine hours for years two through four (234); 10 hours for years five through nine (260); 11 hours for years 10-14 (286); and 12 hours for 15 years or more (312).

In other action from Monday's agenda:

• The board adjourned to special session and signed a confidential agreement to participate in the second phase of the Bill Williams River settlement regarding the severance and transfer of water rights from Planet Ranch.

• The board voted 5-0 to hire John Chatwin as Mohave County risk management director at an annual salary of $102,400. Chatwin, from Henderson, Nev., has 21 years of experience in the insurance industry and commercial risk management. He plans to start work on Jan. 11.

• The board voted 4-1 (Johnson opposed) to appoint Bonnie Nowak as administrator of the Oatman Fire Department. She's been a member of the department for 21 years. Fire Chief Richard Leivas said the department has run into a few "hiccups" in the last eight months, including the resignation of one board member and the clerk of the board. Johnson said he didn't want the county to take responsibility for a fire district with no audit on the books.