GREENVILLE — The Darke County Board of Commissioners met Monday afternoon to approve agreements and discuss hazard pay for election workers during the 2020 election cycle. Commissioners Matt Aultman, Mike Stegall, and Larry Holmes were all present.
The board approved the appointment of Brent Statsny as Darke Co. Apiary Inspector for the 2021 season spanning from approximately March 15 to Oct. 31. Statsny will be paid through the county, but will be under the management of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Statsny’s job will include the inspection of all state registered beehives. His term is effective immediately, beginning March 22, 2021.
An agreement for construction between the board and Arcon Builders was approved for alterations and renovations to the Darke County Board of Elections office. The total cost of the renovations is $39,975. The board noted that portions of grant money will pay for a majority of the project.
A 2021 standard agreement between the board and Crawford, Murphy & Tilly, Inc. was approved. This agreement is for the professional design, specifications, and contract documents for the installation of a fuel farm facility at the Darke County Airport. It was noted that the project fee should not exceed $25,000 without prior written authorization.
The commissioners denied a letter of request from the Darke County Board of Elections for hazard pay following the Nov. 3, 2020 general election. The total hazard pay requested, across all positions at the board of elections, would have total $14,372.59. The request came following a grant that allowed the board of elections to use portions of the grant money for hazard pay during the election cycle. All three commissioners said that they believe the money could be better spent elsewhere, as the grant permits, at the board of elections. Other options include technology updates or work on upcoming elections.
They also noted that many county employees have faced “hazards” working throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and approving this request would be unfair to other county employees, such as courthouse staff or sheriff’s deputies.
“This isn’t to take away from the great work our county employees do. The board of elections did a fantastic job this year and we appreciate their, and all county employees, efforts during the pandemic,” said Commissioner Larry Holmes. “But we see this as unnecessary when viewed in reference to how other county employees have operated under these conditions as well.”
The commissioners stated that setting a county precedent for hazard pay across all county positions could cost upwards of $500,000, which they believe isn’t an appropriate use of county funds or grant money.
When asked whether it was fair to give hazard pay to the board of elections employees, due to the serious uptick in foot traffic during the election, the commissioners responded that other county offices have seen just as much, if not more, foot traffic this year. They noted that in a meeting with courthouse staff, a report was given that estimated 50,000 people entered the courthouse this year — more than entered the board of elections during the election cycle. The commissioners upheld their decision and stated they continue to believe the money could be better used elsewhere at the board of elections.
The Darke County Board of Commissioners meet every Monday and Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. at their office located at 520 S. Broadway in Greenville. To contact the board, call 937-547-7370.