Oktibbeha supervisors tabled the suggestion to provide $50 maximum in hazard pay to each poll worker working the upcoming special election on Sept. 22 for two open seats in the state Legislature.
Greg Fulgham, District 1 commissioner on the Oktibbeha County Election Commission, said at Monday’s meeting that poll workers will be in direct contact with all voters in a precinct, therefore at risk of contracting the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The commission does not have hazard pay in its budget, especially since it did not anticipate a special election, and the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act did not cover the cost either, Fulgham said.
“Occasionally the Secretary of State will drop down some money, but we haven’t been promised any money yet,” he said.
District 1 Supervisor and Board President John Montgomery said he had no problem with the suggestion but needed to look at funding options first. District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams agreed that poll workers should receive extra compensation.
“I would like to see poll workers get that extra money since they’re putting themselves in harm’s way,” Williams said.
The Legislature tried to pass a bill allowing hazard pay for poll workers through Dec. 31. The bill failed, but the Legislature did allow each county to make its own decision on the matter. Earlier this month, Clay County supervisors unanimously approved $50 in hazard pay for the special election.
State Rep. Gary Chism (R-Columbus) resigned from the District 37 House seat and State Sen. Gary Jackson (R-French Camp) resigned from the District 15 Senate seat in June. The Sept. 22 election will decide their replacements.
The Oktibbeha supervisors will revisit the topic in September.
Later in the meeting, supervisors heard a report from Golden Triangle Planning and Development District. Geographic Information System Director Toby Sanford and Utility Services Director Jennifer Odom reported the number of residences the county can bill for house-to-house garbage collection fluctuates regularly as people move in and out of those houses.
GTPDD currently bills 8,841 of the 9,533 residences in Oktibbeha County. This does not include apartment complexes, which have their own dumpsters, and some of the remaining residences are not occupied, Sanford and Odom said.
Golden Triangle Waste Services charges Oktibbeha County more than $76,000 per month at $8.12 per residence. The agency increased its billing from $64,000 per month in January to account for residences that had not been billed previously.
Supervisors voted unanimously in December to bill property owners instead of renters for garbage collection services and to request a full list of addresses in the county that would be added to the billing list.
GTPDD is responsible for counting the houses, billing the residents and collecting the money, which the county then pays to GTWS.
The property owner is ultimately responsible for paying an unpaid garbage bill even if the previous owner or renter did not pay it, Odom said.
Board Attorney Rob Roberson said he has received some complaints about the billing process.
“People have got to understand that we’ve got to get a handle on this because there is a substantial amount of money that’s not being collected,” Roberson said.
GTWS formed in 1997 to provide garbage pickup for Oktibbeha, Lowndes and Webster counties, and supervisors from the three counties serve on the GTWS board. Williams and District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard represent Oktibbeha County on the board.
Tess Vrbin was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.
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