When she opposed approving the payroll during the meeting, Mrs. Gentry told the audience, “Anyone who would like an explanation later on, I’d be glad to give it to you.” Shortly after the meeting adjourned, she spoke to The Mirror and a few interested citizens inside the County Judge’s office at the courthouse.
Mrs. Gentry said she had consulted District Attorney Billy Byrd and the Texas Association of Counties about the matter, only to learn that the time sheets are not legal documents, and as long as the elected official who heads the office “signs the time sheet (as that official did), there’s not a whole lot I can do.”
“I have tried everything I can,” Mrs. Gentry said.
Byrd told The Mirror on Friday that “Mrs. Gentry consulted me, and under the circumstances concerning the time sheets. . . no crime had been committed.” He added that “department heads are free to set their hours.”
The commissioner said the employee’s time sheets “showed that she was there” at her office when people said she wasn’t, and that Mrs. Gentry herself had observed the woman come to work at 8:30 on a morning when the employee’s “time sheet reflected she’d been there” at 7:30.
The commissioner said that as long ago as last year, she began receiving a “lot of complaints” about the office being closed and calls to it not being returned, and that the number of calls from complainants “started escalating” after the worker in question was employed.
Mrs. Gentry said she and County Auditor Brandy Lee documented when the employee in question was at work, and that the worker was accumulating compensatory time. (Mrs. Lee’s office said the auditor was attending a conference in Austin when The Mirror attempted to contact her for comment Thursday.)
Mrs. Gentry told The Mirror she and Mrs. Lee both drove by the office in question while en route to work in the morning, and leaving work in the afternoon, and “I’ve gone up there just different times during the day.”
She told the Mirror reporter and citizens that she talked to the department head, who told her to “just give people my number.” Mrs. Gentry said she did so, but they got no response from the official.
When the issue of approving payroll came up at the court’s meeting, County Treasurer Myra Harris said county employees had already been paid by direct deposit, and Mrs. Gentry confirmed Mrs. Harris’s statement that the issue did not involve Mrs. Harris’s office.
Pct. 3 Comm. Frank Berka abstained from the vote to approve the payroll, while Pct. 4 Comm. Mike Spencer and Pct. 2 Comm. Cole Hefner voted to approve it. None of them commented on the matter during the meeting.