EDITOR’S NOTE: Following a recent article in which the Herald Times stated Shannon Sheridan was “terminated” from her job as the county’s case worker supervisor for the department of human services, Sheridan requested an opportunity to clear the air about the situation. We’ve included her statement here in interview format. To clarify, the use of the word “terminated” in the article was inaccurate. “Asked to resign” was the correct phrase. We regret the error.
Editor: What’s your response to our statement in the paper that you were terminated from your position at the county?
Sheridan: I suppose there are many names to call it. The county has officially chosen to call it a “resignation.” As an infamous politician once said, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” In my situation though, at least no one died! I worried about my reputation when I first read that statement, but those who really know me know that I am a person of immense integrity and honesty. I’ve done nothing wrong and can, with complete confidence, hold my head up high knowing that I have served this county with only the highest level of professionalism for nearly 14 years and have only done that which I thought was best for my employees, my clients and the county.
Editor: What were the issues around the county’s decision?
Sheridan: Well, there were three primary issues at hand: a program called Y-Time, overtime pay for hourly employees, and policies surrounding overtime. Unfortunately, I was caught in the crossfire.
Editor: Can you briefly explain Y-Time?
Sheridan: Y-Time is a time tracking system used to calculate time spent in various program areas. For example an employee working in the Eligibility Department may spend her eight hour day as follows: four hours in administrative duties, two hours in food stamps and two hours in Medicaid. This information is ultimately gathered and used directly by the bookkeeper for reporting purposes.
Editor: So this is how employees are paid?
Sheridan: No, separate, individual time sheets are submitted directly to the county budget department for employee payroll.
Editor: What were the concerns regarding Y-Time?
Sheridan: It was incumbent on each employee to inform me, via email, of any inaccuracies found on their “Y-Time/timed reporting” submittals before month end. On one occasion, I did enter an employee as working in Admin when in fact she was on leave, however these types of errors are rectified before any final submissions occur. One important point I would like to make is that, on numerous occasions, I requested that all of the Y-Time duties be managed by bookkeeping (which historically had been the case); my requests were repeatedly denied.
Editor: What about concerns about how you managed overtime pay?
Sheridan: As you know, payroll, as with any entity, is the biggest expense in the county. The commissioners, understandably, wanted to carefully scrutinize this and asked the director to carefully monitor payroll expenses. Therefore, I was directed to strictly enforce a no overtime rule unless first approved by the director. I would like to point out that I was never, in any capacity, involved in the managing or policies pertaining to either public health or White River Roundup, both of which have come under recent scrutiny.
Editor: Was the overtime policy unfair or unreasonable in your opinion?
Sheridan: Well, call me old school, but I think we can all be more efficient with our time at work. But having said that, if an employee genuinely had to put in overtime, I would request that they be allowed to work that time. If denied, I would allow them to come in late the next day or take a 30 minute (or more) break as opposed to a 15 minute break, etc.
Editor: Were you the only department in the county affected by the commissioners request to cut costs?
Sheridan: No, I’ve since learned that this had been the policy with our previous eligibility supervisor. According to a number of other county employees, this is very common and the current policy in most, if not all of the county departments. So no, we weren’t unique in that regard.
Editor: Since we’re clearing the air, there is a rumor around town that you embezzled funds from the department? How do you respond to that accusation?
Sheridan: With laughter! Money never crosses anyone’s hands in this line of work; every transaction is conducted electronically through county and state systems. So, there is no “pot of money” to embezzle. I would consider this an affront to my character if it weren’t so absurd!
Editor: Your husband mentioned consulting with an attorney during public comment. Are you planning to pursue legal action against the county?
Sheridan: We have consulted with an attorney, however Buckshot has since calmed down and I have come to realize that the costs, both financially and emotionally, are more than I am prepared to deal with. First of all, how would this be good for the county where I choose to live? But more importantly, I just want to put this whole ordeal behind me. I was initially shocked and angry, but have since learned that my job carried unbelievable stress and conflict and, wow, am I enjoying life now! I truly believe that this has turned out to be an incredible blessing in disguise.
Editor: Is there any part of this situation that is especially egregious to you?
Sheridan: There are many, however the one that stands out the most is the gross mishandling of this situation. It seems very clear that certain individuals in the county orchestrated the timing and execution of the results from the investigation resulting in the situation being “held over” until it could be heard by the new commissioners.
Editor: I’m sure you’ve gotten a number of calls from community members.
Sheridan: Yes, I have. When something like this happens, your true friends come out of the woodwork and if I’ve learned anything, it’s the value of true and loyal friendships. I’ve received calls from staff members, but more importantly, I’ve received three calls from past clients, who were, in reality, my real bosses. All three told me that they had disliked me initially but that I actually may have saved their lives and certainly kept their family together. That’s really all I needed to hear.
Editor: Plans for the future?
Sheridan: I’ve had a couple of offers that are very intriguing but for a while, I’m going to work on the ranch. Maybe I’ll help bring those baby calves into the world, rake a little hay this summer, spend time with my dear friends and family and travel with my sweet Buckshot.
Editor: One last question. What have you learned in all this?
Sheridan: I’ve been able to reflect on whatever part I played in all of this and want to be a better person as a result. I’ve also learned that I was under more stress than I had realized, that God is always faithful and to value family and good friends, one of whom reminded me of something that seems fitting here: It is “Et tu, Brute?”(Used to express surprise and dismay at the treachery of a supposed friend).