Peaceful protest

This citizen was waving a sign about redesigning the Town Square at the recent Caswell County Board of Commissioners meeting on January 3 in Yanceyville.

Despite pounding snow last Monday morning for the Caswell County Board of Commissioners meeting, the board and a few citizens braved the weather to make it. 

When Commissioner Nate Hall brought the topic of the Code of Ethics update, Commissioner John Dickerson reminded the board they had put off talking about it. “Why do we need to revise it when the State Board of Ethics has one? I am not for putting too many restrictions on it,” he said. 

Dickerson was also concerned about “stifling” board members into keeping their opinions to themselves and being too micro-managed.

Hall reassured the board he wanted everyone to voice their opinion, but general rules and expectations needed to be followed and were required for some departments and boards. The measure to approve the revised Code of Ethics passed 5-1. Commissioner William Carter was absent.

INCENTIVE

County Manager Bryan Miller brought up the question (again) of offering any kind of incentive for county employees to get COVID vaccinated. Right now about 32% of the approximately 250 county employees are not vaccinated. If the federal OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard is upheld by the Supreme Court, to require weekly testing for  unvaccinated employees, it could cost around $340,000 or more a year to do the required weekly testing with lost time. 

The board debated the ethics of requiring people to be vaccinated given that little information is available on the side effects, long-term effects, etc. 

When the topic of mandating vaccines for county employees was mentioned, Miller stated that he wasn't talking about mandates, simply urging the board to provide incentives. 

JOINT MEETING

The commissioners had asked the Planning Board/Watershed Review for a joint meeting to discuss some issues. That will have to be postponed. With the quasi-judicial nature of the appeals several issues could cause conflict if the meeting is held before the appeals are concluded.

1. Litigation in Caswell County Superior Court between Sunrock and some appellants in the Watershed Review Board matter.

2. Members of the Watershed Review Board are obligated to be independent in the decision making and make their decision based on the record generated at the hearing.

3. Potential discussions could create a due process issue with any decision they make. 

Other Business

*The Rules and Procedures document was approved 6-0. 

*Dickerson asked Miller about the EMS department being overpaid for overtime the last ten years. Miller explained there was no way the finance department would have caught this with the old system. Overtime is rather complex due to the way EMS operates and the error that generated the overpayment was in the 10+ year old EMS scheduling software, not the finance software. The overpayment each month amounted to around $30 after taxes and other deductions per month per employee for three shifts. 

*Miller presented a contract to the Board of Commissioners to reconcile the new financial software package and comply with new accounting regulations. Auditing firms are no longer able to prepare year-end financial statements.  Miller explained that if auditors were allowed to both prepare financial statements and conduct the audit on those financial documents, it would be as though the auditors were auditing their own work which is not a best practice in the financial services industry. 

These facts coupled with the growing number of public records requests and the conversion from the legacy accounting software, ACS to the new accounting software, Munis has led the County to seek additional financial services assistance.  Multiple conversion issues have been found that date back many years with the county’s legacy system.

The contract will allow the administrative and finance units to complete the finance software conversion, comply with the new requirement that auditors not prepare financial statements, and probably most importantly assure that when the Board of Commissioners is provided with financial information, it is both accurate and timely.

The contract was for not-to-exceed thirty thousand dollars and Miller explained that the money was already in the approved budget.  No new appropriations would be necessary.  Miller says it may not cost any more or possibly it will. Either way the money is in the budget if needed. The motion passed 5-1.