Commissioners hire EMA worker

LISBON – A contract worker hired last year by the Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency without the knowledge or approval of county commissioners is being retained by them, but as a county employee.

Commissioners agreed at this week’s meeting to hire Donald Kemp of Guilford Lake as EMA communications coordinator at $10 an hour, not to exceed 25 hours per week.

Commissioner Tim Weigle said Kemp was hired in early January 2013 by Deputy EMA Director Edie Dillard before Luke Newbold took over as EMA director. Weigle found out later after coming across Kemp’s name in the payroll and he wondered why this was never brought to them for their approval.

Newbold wanted to retain Kemp in 2014, and Weigle decided it should be run through a commissioners meeting, but first asked the county prosecutor’s office to review Kemp’s employment situation since he was originally hired as a contract worker. Assistant County Prosecutor Krista Peddicord, in a legal opinion dated Jan. 8, concluded that Kemp should be classified as a county employee because the duties he performed and the manner he was supervised were incompatible with a contract employee.

She also said that Kemp should have been considered a county employee last year, entitling him to the same benefits as any other part-time county worker. As such, the county is required to contribute into OPERS, the state pension system, on his behalf.

Weigle said this means the county will have to pay $2,200 into OPERS on Kemp’s behalf for 2013. As a part-time employee, he is not entitled to any vacation or sick time.

In other action, a quarterly meeting of the county investment advisory committee was held with commissioners, who are committee members. County Treasurer Linda Bolon reported general fund interest income totaled $195,000 in 2013.

“It’s such a dramatic change from when I was here before,” she said, referring to how much interest rates have dropped since she was treasurer 10 years ago, when annual general fund interest income regularly exceeded $500,000. At one time it approached $1 million.

Bolon said the investment-interest reporting problems she inherited upon taking office last year have been resolved. “All of the problems have been taken care of to the best of my ability,” she said,.