According to the December 2, 2007, issue of the Morrison County Record, elected county officials, including the sheriff, attorney, recorder, auditor, and treasurer, are not allowed to cash out any unused paid time off (PTO) at the end of the year, like their appointed colleagues do.  Appointed positions include those of the County Administrator and the Director of Social Services.

These elected officials are asking the County Commissioners for the same treatment that their appointed colleagues get.  They want to be paid for their unused time off.  Sheriff Michel Wetzel is quoted as saying, “It’s not like at the end of the year, if you can’t cash out, you say ‘Oh, I’ll just take more time off then.  Our jobs don’t afford us that luxury.  We can’t use all of our time off.”

It seems that this should be a simple problem to fix – just pay them for the unused PTO.  But, the Commissioners are looking at this from a financial standpoint.  If the elected officials get paid for their time off, it’s as though they are being paid twice.  After all, they worked when they should have been taking vacation time, and they were paid for working.  Now, they want cash for the time off they didn’t take.

It’s a conundrum, to be sure.  In all fairness, the elected officials should be treated the same as the appointed officials.  If the appointed officials get to cash out their unused PTO, then so should the elected officials.

The crux of the matter, however, is that these officials are not getting the time off they have been given.  This means that effective mechanisms for allowing them time off have not been put into place.  Carried further, it means that if one of these officials fell seriously ill or suddenly left, their departments would have a heck of a time coping with the tasks left behind.  Have we no back-up procedures in place to handle this situation?  If not, we should get some and in a hurry.  If so, elected officials and appointed officials should be strongly urged to take their time off.  After all, time off of work helps in making people more effective workers.

Shackled to the shoals,

Phineas F. A. Pickerel

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