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Personnel Committee Sends Measure to Quorum Court


Tuesday afternoon, the Mississippi County Personnel Committee approved an ordinance that amends Article IV of Ordinance No. 2011-12.

The amending ordinance moves the Mississippi County Finance Department under the county treasurer's office instead of where it was previously - under the combined supervision of the county judge's, county clerk's and county treasurer's offices.

Personnel Committee chairman Rick Ash asked Mississippi County Financial Director Kelli Jones about a letter sent from the office of Judge John Alan Nelson.

"That came from the judge. He didn't speak to me at all. The last I heard was that the day that he and I and Michael met with him and we discussed letting up the job duties in my department. He agreed and agreed on a salary. And I have not been told anything different. I was not even given one of those letters," Jones explained. "So, I cannot speak for (Judge Nelson) on that. He did not explain anything to me. Leslie hasn't explained anything to me. I have read it."

The letter states, "Leslie Lawrence began her career in Mississippi County Government on January 3, 2013 in Financial Management where she remains today. Mrs. Lawrence is currently processing payroll. It has been proposed that this particular task is to be reassigned within the department of Financial Management. In consideration of this reassignment, the budgetary process may reduce her annual pay by $5,500.00 for 2020, if that were to occur. Currently there are no plans to reassign or redistribute the duties of payroll for the fiscal year 2020. Mrs. Lawrence will continue to process payroll. This information is presented for the purposes of budgeting for the fiscal year 2020, in the department of Financial Management."

Burge stated the letter from Judge Nelson's office would need to be delayed, due to the passing of the Ordinance earlier in the meeting that will move Jones office under the county treasurer's office.

Ash agreed and added he didn't understand what the letter was about.

Justice Bill Nelson explained that he understood the situation as Lawrence took on the job duties because "someone asked her to with additional money."

Jones stated, " She actually came to us and said I'd do this if I can have more money. We were in a bind and that's what we did. It's worked somewhat. The problem with her doing both jobs is that she hasn't ever completely done both of them. I'm still having to do part of both of them and I can't continue to do that and continue to do justice to my other jobs...I've talked with Michael (White). I've talked with Justice Burge. I've talked with Peggy. I've talked to Leslie. We've all decided together that splitting the job responsibilities is just necessary. It's necessary because of the time that needs to be devoted to each section, AP and payroll. It's necessary because we need to switch software companies and someone is going to have to learn the new software. I've talked to Leslie many times about how I feel about what is going to flow the best in our department and splitting those jobs to me is what is going to work the best. No one was against that, that I was ever told until I saw a copy of that letter last."

White cut in and added, "Kelli, you, Justice Burge and I also sat down with the judge in his office and had this very discussion and the judge at that time was in total agreement and told you to make the changes that you saw fit. And that was the last discussion I knew until we got this letter last week."

Jones stated that was "correct" and also critiqued the letter by saying that Lawrence started in January 2014, not 2013. Jones also stated that she was hired to do payroll but never took on 100 percent of the job duties.

Ash recommended tabling the letter and Justice Howard "Bubba" Norvell motioned to table the letter until the next personnel committee meeting.

According to Burge, with the passing of the ordinance passed earlier in the meeting the letter will be "dull".

The Personnel Committee also tabled three other positions until a job description and the elected official presents the reasoning for the position to the committee.