Elections board tackles overtime

The elections board also discussed evaluating its employees.
WARREN -- The Trumbull County Board of Elections wants to keep better track of overtime paid to its employees.
Since last May's primary election, the board paid nearly 61,000 in overtime out of an annual payroll of 420,000.
This is in addition to compensatory time off for overtime worked by the 12-member staff, including the director and deputy director.
The board stopped short Tuesday of approving a policy recommended by member Ronald A. Knight that would require that no overtime money be paid without prior authorization by the board.
Instead, the board wants a monthly report of how much overtime was paid the previous month.
At the same time, the board will be looking at the possibility of hiring two to four additional full-time workers or what Knight termed "seasonal employees" during periods of peak work loads.
Director Kelly S. Pallante and Deputy Director Rokey W. Suleman II explained that the staff received compensatory time off for working overtime.
State law, however, requires that the time be taken within six months of being earned.
They said that because of the workload, employees couldn't take time off because of elections.
Board member Craig A. Bonar also suggested the hiring of part-time workers.
Suleman countered that it was only because of full-time workers that the staff was able to uncover a petition fraud last year.
He noted that the fraud was noticed because full-time workers were able to find trends in signatures and asked questions. Temporary employees may not have caught the trends.
Suleman argued that requiring prior overtime approval by the board would handcuff the work being accomplished.
As a compromise offered by Bonar, the board agreed to receive a monthly report so the board isn't caught unaware of the total overtime paid at year's end.
Another matter
In other business, Pallante and Suleman said they want to establish an annual employee evaluation system.
Suleman explained that the evaluations will not be punitive nor can they be used for merit pay raises, which are against state law.
The evaluations would be a way of improving office operations, Suleman said.
It was pointed out that the evaluations may result in employees improving their skills through a continuing education program, such as upgrading computer skills.
Board member Barbara A. Katzenberger stressed caution in such a program because the evaluations will be in the employees' permanent personnel files.
Pallante said employees will play a role in developing the evaluation form.

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