Sheriff & commission clash over staff duties
An attempt by one county commissioner to streamline county mail procedures will be instituted in the new courthouse, but created hard feelings as the idea took shape in the last two weeks.
Commissioner Stacy Dugan’s recent discussions with Chief Tax Deputy Kim Michael about a county-leased postage machine in the tax office led Sheriff Vince Shambaugh to write a letter to the commissioners requesting they stay away from the tax and law office staff under his supervision.
In a budget meeting last week, Dugan said she had approached Michael to see how other county offices could use the metered postage machine for their mail.
The machine, which is leased by the county, sits in the tax office because that office produces the most mail of any county department. Dugan said the discussion didn’t get heated, though she did remind Michael that the machine belonged to the county, not the tax office.
Shambaugh’s March 5 letter to the commissioners characterized the discussion in another way.
“I was advised that Commissioner Dugan did approach and order Chief Deputy Michael to, in turn, order another member of the Tax Office staff to assume the duties of processing not only tax office mail but also ALL county mail. This is said to have caused an argument in front of several other staff members that became somewhat heated, further causing Commissioner Dugan to demand this task be completed or the mail machine would be moved to a central location within the new courthouse,” according to Shambaugh’s letter.
In the letter, Shambaugh told the commissioners: “Do not approach and order my employees to do anything without first speaking to me. If you are not paying taxes, making a police complaint or conducting official business, I would appreciate it if you stayed away from all my staff and their offices.”
During the county’s March 9 budget discussions, the commissioners asked Shambaugh if they could remove postage from his office budget and put it into a general postage budget that would consolidate mailing costs for all offices. All courthouse departments would then run their mail through a central postage machine.
Commission President Brenda Hutchinson said the move would save the county money, because first class mail would be weighed and metered. Many letters could be sent for less than the cost of a 44-cent stamp, she said.
Shambaugh agreed to the budget shuffle, as long as his staff still had access to necessary postage funds for high-volume mailings.
Dugan said she didn’t think her encounter with the tax office staff had been heated or confrontational, and that all she wanted was to standardize mailing procedures.
“I just want to make it more efficient,” she said.
The county may be able to renegotiate its $248 monthly lease on the postage machine to match a lower state lease rate.
The machine’s dealer confirmed that the existing machine is sufficient for the volume of mailings for all offices, and that it can be programmed to require an access code for each office in order to track postage expenses by department.