Cumberland Times-News

Editorials

May 29, 2014

Costly fiasco

Issue of worker on paid leave still unresolved

— Who would have guessed when the Allegany County Commissioners placed county employee Kevin Shaffer on leave in early December that six months later he would still be sitting at home — all the while drawing his paycheck?

Shaffer was placed on paid leave after a run-in with the commissioners Dec. 5. Shaffer used two variations of the “F” word during the county commission meeting that day. He was attending the meeting as a private citizen.

Commission president Mike McKay gaveled the meeting to a close after Shaffer used the word a second time. “I have asked you not to use that word,” McKay said after Shaffer’s first use of the word in question.

The next day, Shaffer was placed on paid administrative leave until further notice by the county. County officials have said an investigation of Shaffer’s actions at the Dec. 5 meeting was conducted. The results of the investigation have never been released and no charges have ever been filed against Shaffer because of the incident.

Negotiations to iron out a resolution of the issue have been underway by county officials and Shaffer’s attorney. Neither side will comment, other than to say a statement will be released once the matter is resolved.

It is unfortunate that the situation has dragged out so long.  Although Shaffer is a county employee answerable to county officials while he is on the job, he was at the meeting as a private citizen. The difference between his status as a county employee and as a private citizen seems to be a distinction that escapes the commissioners.

About the only thing that appears certain at this point is that the fiasco has cost county taxpayers, since Shaffer apparently continues to draw a paycheck. If the county has been paying Shaffer all of this time, at an annual salary of $56,000 he has been given $28,000 to sit on the sidelines while the two sides argue back and forth.

Don’t be surprised if taxpayers are on the hook for additional expenses once the two sides reveal their agreement.

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