02/22/06 — Commissioners approve increased benefits for employees on active duty

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Commissioners approve increased benefits for employees on active duty

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on February 22, 2006 1:48 PM

The Wayne County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday stating the their support for county employees who serve in the National Guard or Reserves.

The resolution calls on the county to assist employees who are called to active duty by helping them maintain their jobs and benefits while on military duty.

The resolution allows the county manager "to grant up to 80 working hours of military leave with pay in any fiscal year to any full-time employee who attends and participates in a military training period or other required reserve activity."

Wayne County Manager Lee Smith said several county employees have been called to active duty in the past five years.

"Wayne County has always supported those folks called up to duty. We support them and we are going to go and take it a step further than most would," Smith said.

The new county policy will enable members of the Guard or Reserves who are called to active duty to remain on the county's health insurance plan for up to two years, with the county covering the employee's expense and the employee continuing to pay any applicable expense for dependent coverage.

Commissioner Jack Best said the new policy was needed.

"If someone is going to work for our country, we want to make sure they are covered but we need time limits," Best said.

In other business, commissioners approved a resolution that would ensure the county meets state and federal guidelines during national emergencies. By doing so, they kept the county eligible for possible federal financial help.

The National Incident Management System requires federal, state and local governments to work together in responding to emergencies.

The county's emergency services director, Joe Gurley, told commissioners that the guidelines handed down from the national Department of Homeland Security would not change county procedures.

"It's just a formality. We've been running that system for years," Gurley said.

County employee have already started taking special emergency services training in conjunction with the national system, he said.

Also on Tuesday, commissioners Jack Best and John Bell took the oath of office as member's of North Carolina's Eastern Region Development Commission. The state commission was formerly known as the Global TransPark Development Commission and includes 13 counties in the eastern part of the state that work together to promote economic development in the region.

The commissioners also approved:

* The sale of three lots on West Walnut Street for $3,950 to James A. Ebert of Saebert Construction based in Wendell. The lots were acquired by Wayne County and the City of Goldsboro by foreclosure and were declared as surplus property. The lots, ranging in size from 50 feet by 170 feet to 84 feet by 115 feet, have been on the market for about the past year and County Manager Lee Smith said he was glad that they are taxable county properties again.

*Declaring some Sheriff's Office equipment as surplus property and donating it to the Patetown Volunteer Fire Department. The equipment, a siren speaker and light bar, are both in fair condition and were no longer needed by the Sheriff's Office.

*Applications for 2005 property tax exemption. Church properties are exempt for 2005 under North Carolina law if the applications are filled out on time. However, any applications completed after the deadline can still be exempt if the commissioners approve the motion. Under recommendation by the county tax office, the commissioners approved exemption for the church properties.

The next scheduled commissioners' meeting will be held March 21 at 9 a.m. in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse following an 8 a.m. briefing session. The March 7 meeting was canceled in order for the commissioners to attend the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.