County Council held their July meeting at Wren High School Tuesday night.
During the meeting, they gave final approval to a policy that gathers together into one ordinance several separate ordinances concerning computer use by employees.
The ordinance states: “Employees have no expectation of privacy in the county’s computer and communication facilities … all documents, communications and information that can be accessed on these systems are subject to review, monitoring, and recording at any time without notice or permission.”
The ordinance also sets in place a county policy on social media and networking sites.
“The access of any social networking or social media site, included but not limited to personal blogs, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and any other similar sites, pages or activities, on County computers, or other electronic devices owned by the county or during county time is strictly prohibited,” with the exception of those whose job duties include the promotion of Anderson County through such web sites, the ordinance states.
County attorney Mike Pitts said the policy is very similar “to what just about every employer in the country is doing right now.”
The policy asks employees to keep personal use of county computer equipment to a minimum, Pitts said.
“It alerts all employees that their computer usage is subject to being monitored,” he said. “There’s no expectation of privacy there.”
Employees can say anything they’d like while using their own computers on their own time, Pitts said, but are prohibited from divulging trade secrets or other confidential information pertaining to Anderson County.
“We don’t have to deal with that very often, but sometimes we do when we’re dealing with economic development projects,” Pitts said.
Council approved the policy, with Councilwoman Gracie Floyd opposing.
Council also approved a policy that calls for employees who use county vehicles to log the miles placed on those vehicles.
Council also approved a policy that calls for all members of county advisory boards and commissions to be residents of Anderson County.
Councilwoman Cindy Wilson said it was very important to ensure that county residents were appointed to boards and commissions.
Resident Elizabeth Fant approved of the policy.
“I don’t believe you can adequately serve on a board if you do not live in the county that you represent,” Fant said.
But Councilwoman Gracie Floyd asked if the policy change was necessary.
“I think this is really good,” she said. “I think that people serving us in our official capacity through the committees that we have appointed them to should live in Anderson But maybe I have missed something. Is this a problem? Do you have people on boards … who do not live within the boundaries of Anderson County?”
Chairman Tommy Dunn said previous councils had faced that problem.
Council also approved having all those applying for grants to benefit the county fill out a “Grant Liability” form before the grant application can go forward.
Finance Committee Chairman Francis Crowder said that grants sometimes have “continent liabilities” that could strike the county, often several years after the initial grant.
The form would disclose the intent of the grant and the grant’s funding source, he said.
“I think it’s a really good form that will give us information so that we don’t run into pitfalls approving the use of grant money that’s going to have serious impact on the cash flow of Anderson County without pre-knowing that in advance of applying or accepting the grant,” Crowder said.
Floyd asked if the liability form would endanger the county receiving future grant funds.
“If a grant is applied for, and it does not make an impact on the financial pot of Anderson County, would this form still be necessary to fill out?” she asked.
All grants would have to include the form, Crowder said.
Floyd said she didn’t think the policy was necessary.
“Will this impede the process?” Floyd said.
Interim Administrator Rusty Burns said he didn’t think the form would hinder the county applying for grants “not one bit.”
In other county news, council approved extending a fee-in-lieu agreement with Electrolux, in return for that company’s to create 12 to 14 high-tech jobs in the company’s cold storage research facility along with an additional $28 million investment in Anderson County.
The ordinance extends the county’s existing agreement with the company for another 10 years.
Anderson County Economic Development Director Burriss Nelson said the agreement will give the company “greater sustainability” at its existing location.
The company provides over 1,800 jobs through its Anderson County location, he said.
Dunn said the relationship between the company and the county was “a great partnership.”