Poll pay county commission's primary topic

Published 9:54 am Wednesday, September 13, 2006

By By Lisa Tindell
Poll worker compensation connected to yesterday's special election was the main topic of discussion during the regular meeting of the Escambia County Commission held Monday.
"We have received several calls from poll workers regarding the amount of pay they are to receive for this election," said Bill Stokes, commission chairman. "We only became aware of the problem on Thursday and swiftly corrected the situation."
During a regular statewide election poll workers are paid $50 with returning officers being paid $75. Under a special election workers are paid $100 and $125 respectively.
"Under the law as it reads, Tony (Sanks) did what the law says we're supposed to do when he paid them," Stokes said. "We didn't realize there was a problem until later and we did adjust the pay to reflect the special election issue."
Stokes said there are 182 poll workers for the county. Under current provisions, the commission found it necessary to appoint those workers as temporary employees in order to be able to pay them the rate of compensation required under the guidelines.
"We need to present this situation at the next legislative session," said Larry White, commissioner. "We were not aware of the compensation due to the way the law is written. In our decision to hold this election, we considered costs based on the regular rate of pay. This information came to light on Thursday so we made the adjustment."
Commissioners passed a resolution to make a presentation to the Legislature to include special elections and the rate of pay for poll workers so that policy could be made clear on compensation regulations under regular and special state-wide or special local elections.
"Our poll workers do a wonderful job," Stokes said. "They consider it an honor and a privilege to assist people in doing what is our right – to vote. We will always right a wrong that we weren't aware of if given the opportunity."
In other business, the commission awarded the gasoline and diesel fuel contract for the county to Cooper Oil of Selma. The company, which was the lowest bidder, agreed to base the costs of the fuel on a "day of delivery" basis.
Also during the meeting, the commissioners agreed to post a three-way stop at the intersection of Blacksher Road, Poarch Road and an unnamed road in the Atmore area.
Commissioner William Brown, who represents the district where the intersection is located, said that the stop sign was needed badly at that spot.
"There are a lot of young folks that live on this road," Brown said. "There is a gravel pit there and folks are coming out of there too fast. We need something to slow them down."
A speed limit posting was also considered for the area in question.
"It has been requested by some of the residents in that area that we post a speed limit on Blacksher as well," Stokes said. "It has been recommended that we post a 25 mph speed limit there."
Bill Bridges, county engineer, agreed that it was time to take some action in this area.
"There is a 90 degree turn there," Bridges said. "There already should have been a stop sign posted there. Blacksher Road is a sub-division type dead-end street. There is no speed limit posted there and it should be."
After a unanimous vote, the area was targeted for a three-way stop and a speed limit posting.

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