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Berkeley County employee's time may be monitored

February 09, 2001|By BOB PARTLOW

Berkeley County employee's time may be monitored



MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Berkeley County Commissioners are considering setting up a system to monitor the activities of some county employees when they leave their work areas.

Commissioner John Wright said Thursday he wants to establish a system under which employees would sign out when they leave their work stations, note where they are going, what they are going to do and sign back in when they return.

"Many people are leaving their work areas," Wright said at the weekly meeting of the County Commission. "When they go from building to building, there's a gossip chain that leads to misinformation."

Wright said he's had complaints about employees "abusing" their current freedom of movement.

"I'm going to insist people have an account of their use of taxpayers' time," Wright said. He said employees have been spotted in pairs at such places as the Martinsburg Mall.

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"You see people out all the time, and it's hard to determine if they are on official business or on break," he said in an interview.

No action was taken Thursday because Commissioner Robert Burkhart was ill and unable to attend.

Commission President Howard Strauss said he understands Wright's concern, but urged caution before taking action.

"This is an issue that is important for accountability," he said. "But I'm not in favor of making these changes unless we do take time to discuss it."

If the Commission takes action, only those employees supervised by appointed department heads would be affected, not those supervised by elected officials, Wright said.

Elected officials and department heads discussed the issue briefly with the Commissioners Thursday, with some noting the move would create a lot of paperwork and could slow down employee productivity.

Wright said he understood those arguments and the perception that it could look like employees needed a hall pass to move around. He said only a few employees were abusing the system.

"It could be burdensome, but overall it would be best for us to know where all people are at all times," he said.

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