In the counties under the CUHL, the chief administrative officer is given the following authority under T.C.A. § 54-7-109:
It is the duty of the chief administrative officer to employ qualified administrative personnel as required to handle all administrative functions, including maintenance of financial records, inventory of equipment, supplies, and materials, preservation of maintenance records, maintenance of the official county road list, and all other functions necessary for the operation of the highway department.
The chief administrative officer is authorized to determine the total number of employees of the highway department, to determine personnel policies, hours of work, to establish job classifications, and to establish policies and wages within the classifications. The compensation established by the chief administrative officer should be in keeping with the compensation paid for similar services in the county and surrounding area.
This act clearly places authority over county highway department personnel with the chief administrative officer in CUHL counties. In other counties not under the CUHL, the private acts, county charter or metropolitan charter must be consulted to determine who has personnel authority.
The department head in all counties must be aware that the department’s personnel policies must not conflict with the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or the anti-discrimination laws. And of course, the number of personnel hired and their compensation is limited by the budget available. Department heads must also conform to T.C.A. §§ 5-23-101 through 5-23-112, which requires all county officials to establish certain basic personal policies, have the policies reviewed by an attorney and file the policies with the county clerk. Failure to do so will allow the county commission to create these policies for the official or, as an alternative, the official may choose to join in a county-wide policy.