The Cleburne County Commission Monday night unanimously passed a resolution which requires county Administrator Steve Swafford to attend all commission meetings, works sessions and special meetings.
The resolution was amended from a version which would have required Swafford to give notice of his absence from county administration offices and to abide by a 40-hour week, requiring him to clock in and out each day.
Commission members expressed apparent frustration with Swafford via the resolution, which stated the administrator has not been attending meetings during the last six months and is difficult to locate during business hours.
Swafford conceded he has not attended some previous meetings due to illnesses, but said he felt his presence was not needed when the commission was negotiating his contract in June. Swafford said that because the commission has assigned some of his tasks to other individuals, he felt like he was not wanted at the meetings.
He disputed the claim he is hard to locate during business hours.
“I’m probably the easiest to locate during business hours of anybody I know. I have a county cell phone that I keep with me constantly and my desk phone also rolls over. I adamantly refute that accusation that’s made in the third section of the resolution,” Swafford said.
County Commissioner Jake Durham asked Swafford what his salary was. Swafford answered $143,000 per year.
The commissioners talked about Swafford’s lunch breaks, which they said took as long as two hours; Swafford termed that “defamation.” Durham said he just wants Swafford to attend meetings.
“First off,” the administrator said, “we have a circulating urban legend about this magical two- or three-hour lunch period — to start with, every time I leave this office does not constitute me going to lunch, OK? Do I meet with people during lunch? Absolutely. Do I conduct county business during lunch? Quite often. I know how to pace my day and my day does not always start at eight o’clock and always end at four thirty or five o’clock,” Swafford said. “I am a salaried employee that is paid to get a job done but I’m really tired and really worn out with what I feel is defamation and slander by people going and telling tales because it’s fun to tell tales about these three-hour lunch breaks — I have really had it with that,” Swafford said.
The resolution stipulated that Swafford’s failure to attend a meeting without advance notice or the existence of an emergency “may expose the Administrator to adverse action for such absence.”
During staff reports, county engineer Lee Estes said that all of the paved roads in the county are now free of downed limbs from Friday’s surprisingly heavy snow. The road department will concentrate on the county’s dirt and gravel roads today. Estes said the gravel roads are “pretty bad, a mess.”