MORGAN -- Morgan County Councilwoman Ronda Kippen seems to be balancing her legislative duties with her employment as a full-time office assistant in the county's planning and development services department.
As Kippen sat in county budget work sessions that stretched as long as 10 hours for several days in November, some county residents wondered if she was still officially on the clock for her planning job.
A review of Kippen's time card obtained by the Standard-Examiner shows Kippen logged 4.5 hours on Nov. 7 and 2.5 hours on Nov. 8, the same days as lengthy county council budget work sessions.
The time card, however, lacks clock-in and clock-out times.
County Attorney Jann Farris said none of the county employees use a time clock, although some do manually note in and out times on their time cards. Kippen said her department head advised her and other department employees not to note in and out times.
But upon request, Kippen supplied the Standard-Examiner with specific in and out times for the days in question. She worked her regular job one hour prior to and one hour following budget hearings Nov. 7. She also excused herself that day from the benefits portion of the budget sessions and logged two and a half more hours of work.
On Nov. 8, she excused herself from the budget sessions while the council discussed the community development and GIS department. That, along with working through lunch and an hour of work at her regular job one hour before the budget work session, amounted to 2.5 hours of regular pay.
A hard worker
"She balanced between typical employment duties and time necessary to attend the county council's budget work sessions," said Grant Crowell, the county's former planning and development services director who recently took a new job in Bluffdale.
For those two days, she didn't log as much time as usual at her regular job. However, coming into the county offices while they were closed for Veterans Day helped Kippen make up the difference.
Although her typical job duties are to answer phones and greet customers, that day she was working for nine hours alongside a co-worker to purge building permit files dating back to 2005. Crowell approved the assignment. Her time card also shows 10 hours of holiday pay for that same day.
The county offices are usually closed on Fridays as well, but Nov. 11 found Kippen again at work.
"We had left the office in a pretty big mess the day before (while purging files), and I wanted to get the last filing cabinet out of the hallway," said Kippen, who logged another three hours of work that day.
"In my opinion, she has been very diligent in separating any time devoted to her county council assignments from her hours worked," Crowell said.
"Her commitment to the citizens of this county and her coworkers is beyond question. She is an exemplary employee who goes above and beyond the call of duty on a regular basis."
"I see her all the time in the building," he said. "She is a hard worker."
Farris said Kippen's compensation as council member is $200 a month.
"She doesn't get paid too much to do council business," he said.
But the low pay doesn't dissuade Kippen from working hard.
"I am a workaholic, and I would much rather work late or extra hours, if possible, so that I can keep things moving. I hate it when work piles up," she said. "I take pride in my work and in my work ethics."
Conflicts of interest
Kippen said she excused herself from certain portions of the budget session in order to avoid conflicts of interest. If she had stayed, she would have been setting a budget for a department that pays her regular paycheck or determining her own benefits. However, that didn't stop her from casting a vote during a regular county council meeting for final approval of the 2012 budget. The vote ended up being a close one, 4-3 in favor.
Farris said Kippen's vote on the budget may be a conflict of interest. However, without a formal request from the council to weigh in on the issue, he will not pursue the matter.
"In a small town, it's hard," Farris said. "There's going to be conflicts, because it's a small town."
He pointed out that one council member has a spouse who works for the county, which could also be perceived as a conflict when voting on the budget.