By Ray King

A request from Jefferson County Clerk Shawandra Taggart to fill a vacant position in her office was recommended for approval by a committee of the Quorum Court Tuesday night after County Judge Gerald Robinson said he supported the request.

Taggart said in a letter to Robinson and members of the county’s legislative body that her office is currently working with eight employees including herself and that the beginning of the year is busy for her staff because they have multiple tasks to complete. She went on to say that the voter registration clerk handles upcoming school elections, certifications and has served as a backup for other positions in the office.

She said she was asking that the position be filled immediately so her office does not experience any delays in performing their normal duties such as preparing W-2s, 1099’s and annual reports.

Previously, the Quorum Court voted to impose a hiring freeze and Robinson said he had spoken to Taggart about her request and said he was convinced from that discussion that the position Taggart was asking to fill was vital to the operation of the Clerk’s Office.

Justice of the Peace Brenda Bishop Gaddy said Taggart was not really hiring someone but was replacing someone who had left.

Also Tuesday, members of the Quorum Court discussed a letter that was addressed to Tax Collector Tony Washington from a Deputy Tax Collector complaining of what she called “unfair practice and discrimination in pay” in the collector’s office.  The letter was from Samella Thomas, who, according to the letter, had worked as a deputy collector since March 1, 2008.

Thomas said in the letter that she found out in March 2019 that she was being paid less than the other deputy tax collectors and complained to Washington. She said four other deputy tax collectors were hired between five and 11 years after she was and are currently paid $2,000 to $4,000 more than she is.

Robinson said he had invited Thomas to attend the meeting to address the JP’s but she declined and said the issue was between her and Washington. He went on to say that there was no real action the Quorum Court could take without an ordinance or resolution to change the salary slot and the quorum court and judge’s office were “not in the business of trying to run his (Washington’s) office.”

Washington, who began his second year in office on Jan. 1, said he had hired only one person since he took office and that was a Chief Deputy, and said Thomas is currently being paid the maximum amount she can be paid based on the salary slot she is in.