Jailer Tussey

Madison County Jailer Steve Tussey.

Staffing has become an issue at the Madison County Detention Center and the Madison County Fiscal Court addressed the concerns during a bi-monthly meeting Tuesday in Richmond.

In an effort to curb turnover, Magistrates unanimously voted to change the criteria for future Deputy Jailers. According to Madison County Judge Executive Reagan Taylor, 50 percent of new hires from Jan. 1-July 31 have worked less than three months.

“We have a lot of turnover in the jail for whatever reason,” Taylor said.

“There are a lot of reasons for it,” Madison County Jailer Steve Tussey added.

“The pay grade for one (is an issue), the job itself and people don’t understand or know the job until they’ve done it for a while and it just don’t fit a lot of people.”

First District Magistrate Larry Combs agreed.

“It’s not a job for everybody,” he said.

According to Madison County Human Resources Coordinator Rachel Thomas, temporary hires can be employed under “strict stipulations.”

“The Affordable Care Act prohibits groups to have a waiting period longer than 90 days, which is absolutely when we have (new hires) in, by that 90-day mark, we have to offer them insurance at that point, “ Thomas said. “Keeping that timeline is imperative, since that is federal law. … we have to be extremely diligent with timelines and have plenty of communication in regard to temporary employees. There are multiple deadlines to keep up with for each person.”

Tussey doesn’t anticipate any issues once a new policy is officially implemented. He added that adding staff on a temporary basis will help cut down on overtime, another cost savings to the county.

“I’ve talked to some of the prospective applicants already and I really don’t think it’s going to reduce our applicant pool,” he said. “The people I’ve talked to about it understand. .. It gives us a time to evaluate that person without making them a full-time employee (and) it would save the county a lot of money.”

“In a three-month period, we can find out if it’s a fit for them,” 3rd District Magistrate John Tudor added.

Tom Botkin, 4th District Magistrate, said the 90-day process “is not uncommon in industry.”

“When you hire someone in a plant facility, they just don’t walk in and start to work,” he said. “They go through a process to determine whether or not they like the job.”

Magistrate Roger Barger motioned to give Tussey and Thomas permission to set up and implement the 90-day policy for new hires at the jail.

“Steve has one of the toughest jobs in the county,” he said. “He has already explained the turnover is unbelievable and besides that, it’s costing us money. It’s something that’s needed and we need to do. … we’ve got to take care of the jail.”

In other business:

• In a 4-1 vote following a lengthy and controversial discussion that took more than an hour, magistrates denied a zone change from R-7 (rural/agriculture) to R-1 (single-family residential) on a 80.42 acre property on Moberly Road. Taylor was the lone vote against the motion that was based on a “common sense” finding of fact by Barger based on water and traffic concerns in the area. Jack VanWinkle purchased the property “with good intentions” on his behalf from Steve Riley, who said it was his understanding the land in question was to remain a “farmland, because I knew it wasn’t suited for anything else.” The land owner has the option to appeal the decision.

• Tabled first reading of ordinances on the property maintenance code and road adoption list because of lack of information on both ordinances. Magistrates wanted time to review the documents before first reading.

• Re-appointed Jim Carr to the Madison County Utility Board.

• Hired Katie Banks as an administrative assistant at the Madison County Animal Shelter at $13 per hour.

• Approved the hiring of Lauren Hobson as an officer in the code enforcement office for $13 per hour.

• Promoted Dakota Berry in the EMA/CSEPP office from EOC Tech to Medical Officer. Berry will make $19.74 per hour in the new position.

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