After discussing last month the removal of a nepotism policy from the Coffee County personnel manual, the Coffee County Compensation and Personnel Committee voted Jan. 9 to keep the policy in place but add a section that allows for a waiver.
“There has been an enforcement problem,” said Tim Stubblefield, chairman of the compensation and personnel committee. “We need a policy. We are just trying to figure out … tweak it. We have made exemptions in the past.”
Coffee County Sheriff Chad Partin, a member of the committee, said he would not support removing the nepotism policy from the county’s handbook.
“Besides the budgetary issues we have in this county, nepotism is the second-most scrutinized thing from the citizens of this county,” Partin said. “It’s something we need to stand by, that we need to enforce and uphold for the taxpayers of this county … This has to be done equally across the county, as far as employment goes; this is a no-brainer.”
Member Joey Hobbs agreed, noting he would support adding a section to the manual that would allow for an exemption to the nepotism policy for an individual with unique skills and qualifications.
All members agreed to keep the nepotism policy in place and add a section allowing for such a waiver.
In December, talks about re-evaluating the policy began because several unnamed individuals have reportedly been employed by the county in violation of the county’s nepotism policy.
The policy states that to avoid conflicts of interest, the county will not consider a relative for employment if: the employee will participate in the decision to hire the relative; the employee will supervise the relative or employment activities of the relative; the employee will be in a position to influence the employment activities of the relative; or the recruitment of the relative will create either an actual conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest.
For the purposes of the policy, “relative” includes, but is not limited to, the employee’s spouse, siblings, parents, grandparents, children, stepchildren, grandchildren, father-in-law, mother-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law and any other members of the employee’s household.
The individuals hired in violation of the policy had received the green light by the compensation and personnel committee; however, the existing policy didn’t provide for such an exemption.
Since these employees have already disclosed relationships that could potentially create a conflict of interest and have received prior approval to work, they will not be affected by the change and will continue to work for the county.
Adding a section to the policy that allows for a waiver would make future exemptions legal when unique skills are required.
Elena Cawley may be reached via email at email@example.com.