Commission approached about Circuit Clerk’s office staffing
A former employee of the Circuit Clerk’s office approached the Morgan County Commission on Thursday, July 21, to talk about her recent layoff from the county judicial office.
Connie Miller, who worked for the office for close to 13 years, was discharged from her duties at the end of June. Miller requested that the personnel discussion remain open to the public, rather than being conducted in closed session.
Circuit Clerk Kim Jackson was not present for the personnel discussion.
Miller told the commissioners she was surprised by the layoff and always took pride in her work as a bookkeeper for the Circuit Clerk’s office.
Miller said she had started training for new job duties when she fell and broke her hip in January.
Following surgery and rehabilitation, Miller said she was awaiting an okay from her doctor when she was notified by letter in early April that she needed to return to work or risk forfeiting her position.
On June 28 she was formally discharged from her job.
Miller said Jackson had talked about cutting staff because the commissioners cut her budget during the spring budget process.
Miller is receiving unemployment after being laid off.
“I would like to see that unemployment paid out of the Circuit Clerk’s budget,” said Commission President Stacy Dugan.
“She will have extra money to pay that now,” said Dugan.
Commissioner Brad Close said he was skeptical that the money could be drawn out that way.
Dugan asked Administrator Jody McClintock to seek a formal decision from the Attorney General on the question.
Miller said Jackson called her recently to assure her that an employment ad running in the paper wasn’t for Miller’s position, but for another person’s job in the office.
Miller asked if she could apply for the job, and said she was told she could, but at the pay rate being advertised, not at Miller’s higher former salary.
Legal action expected?
Dugan told the other commissioners that she had received a call from their attorney, Richard Gay, who was contacted by attorney Charles Trump on behalf of Kim Jackson.
Gay told Dugan that Trump may be preparing to file a writ of mandamus on behalf of Jackson, in regards to her office budget.
The writ is an order from a higher court to a lower body, like the County Commission, that requires them to provide something or perform some duty spelled out in law.
In this case, state law requires county commissions to fund the Circuit Clerk’s office with enough money to operate properly.
“We did cut her budget around 1%, but we cut other offices more, including our own,” said Dugan.
Close suggested the commissioners call Jackson and sit down together to settle the dispute.
Dugan said she would contact Richard Gay to see what it would cost the county to hire him to advise them on the matter.
“Any way we can avoid spending the county’s money on things like this, I want to try to do that,” said Commissioner Brenda Hutchinson.
Close said he would ask Jackson if she would be willing to talk about the issue.
Jackson was unavailable for comment at press time.
In June, Jackson had approached the commissioners about salary cuts in her budget, asking if they would restore previous salary levels.
The commissioners made no change in the budget, and told Jackson she could spend the salary budget however she saw fit to staff her office.