County supervisors look to city for direction on evaluation forms|[1/6/06]

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 6, 2006

Warren County supervisors will move forward on performance evaluations for at least some county employees, perhaps looking to similar evaluations done by the City of Vicksburg as a model.

The issue, dormant for nearly a year since supervisors last took it up in a formal session, gained steam in December during talks about which county officers would be reappointed. All were.

The main proponent on the board, District 4 Supervisor Carl Flanders, offered a motion in March 2005 on the matter only to see it die without a second. Flanders was elected board president Tuesday.

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In an informal meeting of supervisors Thursday, county administrator John Smith, whom Flanders believes should be in charge of the evaluations, told the board there was a lack of unity on the issue a year ago, thus putting him &#8220in a quagmire as to how to proceed” in launching them.

Looking for a starting point, Smith said he will consult with human resources officials with the City of Vicksburg, his former employer.

&#8220Their evaluation form would be acceptable for the manner of how we go about it,” Smith said.

Established in 2002, the evaluation for city employees measures job performance in 10 areas including productivity, initiative, following procedure, attendance and interpersonal relationships.

Administered twice a year by either a foreman or assistant department head, the evaluations appraise a worker’s performance in the previous six months and numbers are assigned.

Although Smith worked as city auditor for 18 years and oversaw only numbers crunching, he said the city’s system of evaluating city employees’ job performance improved in recent years.

&#8220If we show some leadership and implement it correctly, then these other elected officers will follow suit,” Smith said.

District 3 Supervisor Charles Selmon said evaluations would help morale among employees, adding that board-appointed county officers should receive evaluations from the board at midyear.

Supervisors who have indicated opposition to the evaluations were still quick to point out that many county employees work for departments headed by an elected official who may not follow a board-initiated evaluation.

&#8220I think we can say to them (elected officials), ‘We’re thinking about doing evaluations. Here’s the forms if you’d like to evaluate your employees and we’ll share the forms.’ That’s all we can do,” said District 1 Supervisor David McDonald.

&#8220If you want to talk to somebody, talk to the ones we set a budget for,” said District 5 Supervisor Richard George.

Of the 293 people who work for the county, only about 100 are under the direct authority of the board. The rest work for elected officials such as the sheriff, justice court and other judges, court clerks and the tax assessor and tax collector.

Smith also showed the board a draft of a revised organizational chart showing relationships of policy and procedures.

In Smith’s first draft, the Road Department and Office of Emergency Management are shown to be linked to that of the county administrator because their policies and procedures are set by the board.

Although another more comprehensive draft was expected from Smith at the next informal meeting, the board was satisfied with the concept.

Flanders asked Smith to further delineate the location on the chart of emergency management director, inquiring why the position is not under the administrator.

Smith explained that state law governs the establishment of an emergency management arm. He also said that during an emergency, the director reports to the board and &#8220does not need an extra ream of bureaucracy.”

Smith said he will consult with information systems director David Rankin to come up with a complete flow chart for next Thursday’s informal meeting.