published Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Hamilton County salary, employee policies vary across different offices

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    Jim Coppinger took the oath of office as Hamilton County mayor on Jan. 11, 2011.
    Photo by John Rawlston.
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When Hamilton County constitutional officers made budget presentations earlier this week, county commissioners regularly questioned whether their employees follow the county's handbook or some other policy.

The county's handbook contains employee policies, benefits, salary and disciplinary procedures.

Constitutional officers such as county clerk, sheriff, property assessor, trustee, register of deeds, court clerks, district attorney general and judges are independently elected and have great latitude in how they run their own operations.

"If they were all under a part of the handbook, we would all be better," said Louis Wright, county finance administrator. "It provides us a better legal position in terms of how we deal with employees."

The assessor of property, election commission, Juvenile Court and Juvenile Court clerk all operate under the general county government handbook. Others have their own policies, often modified from the handbook.

County Human Resources Administrator Leslie Longshore said the county's offices often have a mishmash of general county policies and their own.

While all full-time employees are on the county's health insurance, there are variances in other areas. Many offices, for instance, use the county's payroll services but don't follow the county's salary and pay scale. Others, like the trustee's office, handle their own payroll.

"It puts [human resources] at a huge disadvantage," County Mayor Jim Coppinger said.

Longshore said she often has to tell employees they don't fall under her oversight.

"Frequently the calls that I get would not be something someone would want me to go to a supervisor about," she said Wednesday. "I do have to refer them back to their own policies."

about Ansley Haman...

Ansley Haman covers Hamilton County government. A native of Spring City, Tenn., she grew up reading the Chattanooga Times and Chattanooga Free Press, which sparked her passion for journalism. Ansley's happy to be home after a decade of adventures in more than 20 countries and 40 states. She gathered stories while living, working and studying in Swansea, Wales, Cape Town, South Africa, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Ga., and Knoxville, Tenn. Along the way, she interned for ...

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