Recording policy not changed in Surfside Beach

Recordings in the workplace in Surfside Beach won’t be a cause for termination.

Town Council on Tuesday opposed a suggestion that the personnel policy be changed to limit audio or video recordings by town employees unless permission were received by the town administrator or the town mayor. Unauthorized recordings would have been cause for immediate termination.

Town Administrator Micki Fellner said the policy would protect town employees and would limit “financial exposure” with lawsuits involving workplace recordings.

Mayor Pro Tempore Mary Beth Mabry liked the policy, saying the attorney thought it would be best for the town, and her job is to protect the town. She also said she doesn’t trust recordings because the tape could easily be edited and comments could be taken out of context.

Councilwoman Beth Kohlmann said the policy would protect a violator, specifically in instances of harassment.

“If you’re acting inappropriate, that would be their defense,” she said of a recording. “If somebody records something where you’re not doing anything wrong, what’s the point?”

Councilwoman Ann Dodge agreed.

“I was in a position at one point where I was being harassed,” Dodge said. “I got no support. I did audio tape [and I] thought that that would be the end all. It was not. So I resigned and moved to another agency. We need to have protection for the employees when they are in a situation like that.”

Councilmen Rod Smith and Randle Stevens also were not in favor of the policy change.

Town Council also looked at the hiring of relatives in the personnel policy manual.

Fellner explained the town ordinance and the personnel policy conflicted. Town Council agreed to amend the personnel policy so it fell in line with the town ordinance. The policy manual did not allow any immediate family members to be employed in the town. The ordinance does allow relatives to be hired as long as no family members are in the same department or in a supervisory role.

Additionally, Town Council agreed no relative of the town administrator or a council member should be employed with the town.

Tuesday night’s meeting started with disagreement over the keeping of minutes during Town Council meetings. The minutes for the Nov. 13 meeting were not approved, requiring Town Council to defer second readings on decals and exemptions for parking and advertising for volunteers in newspapers.

Kohlmann said the minutes were not transcribed verbatim and important information was left out.

Town Council directed the town administrator to transcribe both November meetings verbatim and record the amount of time the process took for the council to evaluate and make a decision at the next meeting.

A vote on the proposed overlay district was deferred. The overlay district would create more specific regulations for the business district along U.S. 17 business excluding Sandy Lane. Council members Stevens, Dodge and Smith wanted the proposed guidelines to be discussed by the business committee before council took a final vote.

Councilwoman Kohlmann also voted to defer the decision, though she questioned why there had been delays by the business committee to meet and wanted the overlay district to appear on the agenda for the Town Council’s lone December meeting.