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Nash mulls budget suggestions

Nash County Commissioners spent part of the first day of a two-day retreat with department heads discussing ideas that stemmed from a department head retreat.

Several committees were formed during the department head retreat and those committees presented reports to the board last Thursday afternoon.

The first committee was Building Employee Morale.

Patsy McGhee, Grants & Intergovernmental Relations Administrator for Nash County, gave some ideas and suggestions that came from the committee.

Those ideas included things that would not cost the county anything such as starting an employee spotlight, food trucks, a farmer's market and in-county volunteering. McGhee said allowing employee dress variations, such as letting employees wear clothing for their favorite teams during sporting events was another way to build employee morale.

A pay increase was also on the list of recommendations.

Recruitment and retention was another item discussed. Chief Deputy Brandon Medina presented those recommendations.

Paid annual accrual for new hires was one topic discussed. Offering compensation for employees that could speak a foreign language was another item recommended.

Other ideas include tuition reimbursement, increases for degrees earned and a community involvement incentive, which would provide eight hours to a newly hired employee to participate in county functions.

Medina said he enjoyed the retreat, adding that he thought it brought employees closer together.

"I think we have a better, tighter family," he said.

Security was another item discussed during the retreat, with 18 recommendations provided. Amy Pridgen-Hamlett led the discussion.

Hamlett said employees letting the 9-1-1 center know if they are staying past 6 p.m. was a no-cost recommendation. Creating a shared calendar for meetings would also be a way that everyone would know who was in the building. That would also be at no cost to the county.

Installing security latches was another idea and would cost $3,250.

More lighting was also suggested at the Agricultural Center at a cost of $1,500 and in the parking lot behind the detention center at a cost of $600 per year.

A more costly recommendation was the installation of a panic notification system in the lobby. That would cost $15,600 a year. Another costly recommendation was to install bullet-proof glass in certain reception areas. That recommendation had a price tag of $90,000.

The consideration of an ordinance to ban weapons in county buildings was a hot item of discussion. Currently, there is a ban on concealed weapons in county buildings so legally you can open carry. The suggestion was to change the ordinance so no weapons would be allowed at all. An alternative would be to allow concealed carry only but not only open carry and other weapons from public buildings.

Commissioner Wayne Outlaw said he didn't agree with the recommendation.

"I would never vote for that," he said.

"We'll be talking about this for a long time," Outlaw added.

Supervisor and Employee Training was another item discussed. Scott Rogers, Deputy Director of Emergency Services, led the discussion on that topic. Four recommendations were presented.

The recommendations included reviving the building leaders together in-house employee training program. That recommendation would not cost the county anything.

Two other no-cost recommendations included designing a structured network for department heads to coach one another and revamping the performance evaluation process.

Another recommendation that came at a price tag of $1,250 was to offer quarterly training to supervisors and department heads on the Human Resources Policy Manual to improve consistency.

Commissioners agreed that many of the recommendations were needed and approved a majority of the no-cost recommendations.

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