Time clock idea voted down by commissioners
October 17, 2012
The Butler County commissioners and their administration staff won’t have to punch a clock. The commissioners voted 2 to 1 to not install a time clock in their office on the fifth floor of the government center. Commissioner Jim Eckstein, who proposed the time clock, was outvoted by fellow commissioners Bill McCarrier and Dale Pinkerton. Eckstein said he suggested the time clock as a response to Pinkerton’s comments last week that Eckstein was late to work on a regular basis and to address an employee’s absences. “We definitely have a problem in the commissioners office,” Eckstein said. He wouldn’t name the employee. McCarrier said the use of a time clock isn’t feasible because the salaried employees in the office would have to become hourly workers under federal law. “This could cause a problem,” he said. Eckstein said his proposal also would address criticism of his administrative assistant, Margaret Abersold. During public comment, Steven Hively of Cranberry Township said county payroll records, which he requested, showed Abersold submitted time sheets with no justification for seven days of comp time. First-year employees such as Abersold do not receive vacation time. Slippery Rock Councilman Itzi Meztli also complained about the lack of explanation for Abersold’s absences. “Commissioner Eckstein did not provide written documentation that lists specific dates and hours of Abersold’s comp time earned and, more importantly, stating reasons why it was necessary to take it,” Meztli said. Eckstein said any days Abersold took off were approved by him. “I didn’t invent this,” he said about comp time. Eckstein praised Abersold for being willing to stay late and come in early when needed, earning the comp time. “I see it as a plus,” he said. Meztli asked McCarrier, board chairman, to launch an investigation into all comp time used in the commissioners office. “As a county taxpayer, I vehemently object to employees taking so much comp leave for whatever flimsy reasons given — if one is even given,” Meztli said. McCarrier said in an interview there are federal guidelines for providing comp time, but the county can see if there needs to be more control over its use. “It’s probably something to look at,” he said. Bill O’Donnell, chief county clerk, said in an interview the three administrative assistants answer to their respective commissioner. However, department heads keep detailed records of their staffs’ comp time use. Eckstein chided Meztli and Hively for criticizing Abersold. “Do not blame her,” Eckstein said. He said any criticism should be aimed at him, not a county employee. “Stick to me,” Eckstein said.