By Amanda McBirde
The Choctaw Plaindealer
The Choctaw County Courthouse elected officials are trying to move to a “team spirit” in utilizing the current employees to help out in offices, when needed.
Steve Montgomery, Chancery clerk, proposed to use the inventory clerk as a “utility employee” once her workload lightens and to the county bookkeeper to the front of the Chancery clerk office to help with customers.
He said that he, the tax assessor and the Circuit clerk want to work together to help each other in high demand times.
In Montgomery’s proposal, he said that he has already reduced his staff by employee and the tax assessor’s office has already moved two full-time employees to part-time in an effort to save the county an estimated $50,000 per year.
He also proposed to levy $1,000 flat rate per month back to the county for any help deputy clerks perform in collection of fees. He already pays $900 per month for this reason.
The Choctaw County Board of Supervisors discussed this proposal in three separate board meetings before finally approving it in a 4-1 vote on August 27. District 5 Supervisor Eric Chambers voted against it.
The day before the vote, August 26, the board was ready to approve the proposal when Chambers disagreed.
In the August 26 meeting, Board President Chris McIntire called for a vote to approve the proposal, after a short pause, District 2 Supervisor Larry McCLain made the motion. McIntire then called for a second then after another pause, he made the second to the motion.
In the discussion, Chambers said he couldn’t support the proposal because of an Attorney General’s opinion that contradicts the proposal. After questions from the board, Chambers said the board, except for District 4 Supervisor David Carter, had seen the opinion.
“If you had a legal issue then why didn’t you bring it up before we had a motion and a second and let us hang ourselves?” said McIntire to Chambers.
McCLain and McIntire then withdrew their motion and second.
In the August 27 meeting, Steve Wright, board attorney, said he talked to the Attorney General’s office that morning and the opinion in question does not contradict the proposal. He said the opinion recommends contacting the audit department.
“Audit doesn’t have any heartburn over this. I suggest putting in the minutes that the clerk paying $1,000 a month is a fair and reasonable amount to cover the employees,” said Wright.
After more discussion, Chambers said, “I’m sticking with the opinion of the AG. I’m not opposing to do it, if the law allows it.”
Soon after McIntire called for a motion to approve the proposal. McClain made the motion with a second from McIntire. It was approved 4-1 with Chambers against it.