July 10, 2015

Benefits Perks

By giving Karen Degges 90 days of paid medical leave, the Jasper County BOC has opened the door for all county employees to receive the same benefit.


Look at some facts about Jasper County’s policies:

  1. What does the current county policy say about leave?
  2. How much PTO time does Karen Degges have accumulated? No one can be sure because she never turned in PTO leave even though she took time off frequently.

  3. What is FMLA—Family Medical Leave Act?   Federal laws control FMLA and allow 12 weeks (84 days) of UNPAID medical leave.


 4.  Does Jasper County have any FMLA policies?       They sure do, again it is for UNPAID leave unless an employee has PTO time accumulated.


By giving Karen Degges’ paid medical leave for 90 days, the BOC has gone against county policy and opened the door for all other county employees to take PAID medical leave. They have now set a precedent, and if they don’t allow other employees to have this benefit, their policy is discriminatory.

Does Karen Degges’ contract say she gets paid medical leave? No, and there is no stipulation for severance pay either. Here is a copy of her contract:


Ms. Degges could have easily been fired for violating Section 7.04 of the contract and Section 9.02, in particular harassment of a work colleague among other items in this section. Ms. Degges was not entitled to severance per Section 9.06 of her contract.

 The Commissioners’ Attorney has cost Jasper County taxpayers plenty in this ploy.     $21,250 for 90 days pay, approximately $1,200 for 3 months health insurance benefits, and (if Karen Degges does have hip surgery) approximately $3000 of the medical insurance deductible the county picks up for each employee. In addition, huge unknown costs of paying up to 90 days of medical leave for other employees.

 When a thoroughly corrupt government wants to try and hide something from the public, they exert an all-out effort to misdirect and cover-up.  This is what has happened in this case. Instead of coming out of Executive Session and telling everyone they were terminating Ms. Degges and giving her 90 days of severance, this BOC was too gutless for that. They instead made up the “paid medical leave” story and indicated Ms. Degges may be back in 90 days. Comm. Henry was the only one to vote NO to this ploy.

On July 8, 2015, Comm. Pennamon and Mike Benton (now acting County Manager) met with department heads and announced that Karen Degges would not be back because employees were all questioning exactly what happened. However, Comm. Salmon is telling citizens that Karen Degges is on medical leave and he is hoping she is coming back after her surgery.

This BOC has never been honest with the Jasper County citizens, but instead they use telephone calls, emails, and Executive Sessions to hide what they are doing, and this way of doing business is costing the taxpayers dearly.

Your comments are welcome!


Be Informed!  Get Involved!




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  1. Roy Sparks says:


  2. Clean The House says:

    The problems which came with the county manager would not exist if our commissioners had not been negligent when they selected her for that position. It is a combination of laziness and incompetence of the BOC. Anyone can fluff their resume to appear to be the best candidate for a given job. It is the BOC’s responsibility to vet a candidate. Their failure to do so has opened a Pandora’s Box of troubles for the county and taxpayers.

    They showed poor judgment when they hired her, and continue to make the problem worse with bad decision making.

  3. Where is common sense? says:

    The commissioners cannot be honest even with themselves. Some think Ms. Degges is not coming back, others say she is or hope she will be back. Makes one wonder if everyone paid attention during the discussion in executive session.

    In the private sector it is somewhat common place to give an employee 1 week of severance pay for each year of employment. That would translate to 2 weeks for Ms. Degges. There is no rhyme or reason why someone would get 90 days paid leave, be it medical or otherwise when only employed for 2 years.

    Ms. Degges’ contract does not allow for severance pay, so the BOC came up with a medical leave ruse.

    It is easy to be benevolent with other people’s money.

    • taxdogs says:

      You can do all sorts of things when you can raise taxes every year and spend it to make yourself look good. This isn’t one of those times that makes them look good.

  4. THE TRUTH, PLEASE! says:

    How do we know Bruce Henry was casting a “wise” vote of “no” on the BoC ‘s apparent deception to dress up Ms. Degges’ severance package to make it look like a paid medical emergency?

    Mr. Henry could have been voting “no” because he was not happy with:

    a) the amount of severance
    b) the act of severance
    c) the deception of medical leave as severance
    d) personal involvement that recused his vote.

    We just don’t know and until Mr. Henry comes clean with the citizens of Jasper County on the circumstances of Ms. Degges termination, he is just as guilty of the conspiracy to lie to the voters of this county as the other four deceivers.

    The truth just isn’t in this gang of five.

    • Confused says:

      You are correct. I should not have considered it wise without knowing the why for the no vote. Thanks for pointing that out to me.

  5. somebody says:

    BOC has laid the foundation for disaster.
    Sooner or later a struggling county employee is going to decide he or she has a drug/alcohol addiction,or maybe just chronic fatigue.Now that the FMLA has been altered, to include pay,seeking medical care/rehab or 90 days medical rest just became real enticing.

  6. Frazzled says:

    I wish Mr. Alexander would adhere as strictly to the law as he is to the 3 minute time limit during public comments

  7. Confused says:

    The first three comments are right on! I ditto all of them. We need and deserve some answers. I think the BOC needs to admit they were wrong and follow Commisioner Henry’s wise vote and rescind their decision as done in error. I hate it for them but when at first you decieve, a crow dinner you may have to eat. We, the taxpayers did not make this enormous mistake, they did thinking that we would be okay with it. THEY WERE WRONG!

  8. J4 says:

    Wow-what a tangled web the citizens of Jasper County is dealing with! You got a county manager from Baldwin that was “let go” and now she is being allowed to sit and collect her salary for 90 days. BOC- the word is “FIRED”! Get used to it, because if the citizens get smart, and I think they are, YOU are going to hear it at election time!

    You have forgotten who you work for and report too. It’s time all of you realize that the citizens deserve your respect, not your arrogance!

  9. Vicky says:

    Georgia is a state of employment at will. Karen Degges should have been fired! She should not get paid for 90 days nor receive medical benefits. If fired, a fired employee can apply for Cobra. Bottom line – the BOC should have never hired her in the first place. Many taxpayers have been telling all of you this for a long time.

    Your attorney was out of order last night with his replies to questions about the CM’s leave of absence and whether she was being paid. He cannot hide anything, it is all open records.
    That leaves the question – are you going to allow Karen Degges to return as CM after the 90 days since it was only a “leave of absence due to medical issue?”

    The BOC came close to doing what was called for – firing Karen Degges, but fell short. I would like to know why the BOC used the “medical issue” as a reason. What about her lying, corruption, incompetency and total failure to do her job?
    Now the taxpayers will be paying her this salary and the insurance benefits. If the BOC feels they “owe” her, then take it out of your pockets, not ours! (Same issue for Sherry Braley!)

    Mike Benton was hired by Karen Degges as FM. She had previously hoodwinked the BOC into believing she could handle the CM and FM jobs along with being a forensic accountant. Mike Benton is not the person for this job, and should never be given an increase in salary. He can be the interim CM until the BOC hires a new, honest, competent CM, and do that in a timely manner. Unfortunately the BOC does not have a very successful record of hiring the right person for the job of County Manager. Maybe this time you should form a committee like the one that handled the landfill issues to interview and hire a county manager.

  10. Gayle says:

    So the BOC can just go against county policy? I hope she is gone for good.

    Gayle Gray


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