Gas Mileage Reimbursement Excludes Home Health Aide

August 25, 2005--Posted at 10:30 p.m. CDT

JACKSON COUNTY-- Gas prices are stressful for traveling workers across the country, but adjustments are to be made for State employees that are having trouble paying at the pump.

However, one Region 8 employee says she is left out.
An increase in gas reimbursement that will be effective September 1st gives some relief to state employees that drive their own cars, but for one state worker, it is not so simple.
Rising gas prices could cost her a job.
The emotion of one state employee is running high as she realizes she's not eligible for gas reimbursement that will be used to help employees across the state that are feeling the pinch at the pump.
"I feel like I'm scraps at the bottom of the barrel," Home Health Aide Erica Mcclellan says.
Mcclellan travels nearly 100 miles in her personal car each day, and with the rise in gas prices, she may have to consider employment elsewhere.
"By the time I buy gas, I'm not even making minimum wage. I'm averaging four dollars an hour, that's the truth," Mcclellan says.
All state employees who use their personal vehicles will be given an increase from 37 to 39 cents a mile...a compensation Mcclellan says she will never benefit from. Why?
"Because we're contract labor. We don't get anything I guess. We have to get what they give us. We're not real state employees," Mcclellan says.
Mcclellan gets 26 cents a mile and the state says they might give her a small increase, but she says that's just not enough.
"If they're planning on giving us another 2 cent raise, they can just keep it. Apparently they need it more than I do," Mcclellan says.
She says 2 cents compared to eleven is a sad comparison, and something simply has to give...
"If I can't afford to buy gas, they can hire somebody right behind me, but they're not going to be able to afford gas either. I don't know what they think we are going to do at 26 cents a mile," Mcclellan says.
Erica Mcclellan says there are 20 home health aides in Jackson County.