Circuit Clerk, County Have Discrepancy Regarding a Union Contract
By JOHN HUGGINS | For The Prairie Advocate News
MOUNT CARROLL – The Carroll County Board held its first regular meeting of 2013 on Thursday, January 17 at the Carroll County Courthouse.
Included in the packet of information the board members receive prior to the meetings was a memo from County Administrator Mike Doty and Treasurer Diane Powers. It read as follows:
Since 2002, the County Board and the Circuit Clerk have had an agreement to fund additional pay to employees in the Circuit Clerks office that are above the base salary given to the Carpenters employees in the other County offices. To further explain, the Circuit Clerk in 2002 decided to pay a yearly increase of $2,500 for an existing employee, but not to increase that amount each year. So the County Board agree to pay for increase to the base salary equal to what the County Board awarded to the other Carpenters unit, if the Circuit would pay for any other increase above the base ($2,500)out of one of the Circuit Clerks special funds. In the contracts to follow any individual receiving an increase above the base salary had the extra salary funded out of the Child Support Fund and did not have increases on the additional salary. Examples of the agreement to pay out of the Child Support Fund over the years are attached.
The Circuit Clerk has recently come to agreement with the Carpenters employees for a contract that covers the fiscal years from 2011-2013. In this contract both the base salary and the additional salary have been increased. In the new contract for this employee the base and the $2,500 were added together and then the increases of 2%, 3% and 3% over the three years were added to total salary. This has created a situation where more than $2,500 needs to be funded above the base salary. The Treasurer and the Administrator met with the Circuit Clerk to discuss the change in the contract and how to fund the addition dollars created by the change. The Circuit Clerk directed the Treasurer to take the additional increase on the $2,500 out of the Document Storage Fund. To do this the Board, at future meetings, will need to amend the budget and then make transfers to reflect this change. This is similar to how the $2,500 is taken out of the Child Support Fund. Once this is completed the budget will reflect the necessary funds to pay the additional salary.
During the meeting, Doty explained the math proving that the increase had been applied to the $2,500 as well as the base salary.
Circuit Clerk Sheri Miller argued that the increase did not apply to the $2,500 and, therefore, should not come out of any of her department’s line items. She also believed she did not tell the treasurer to take it out of the document storage fund.
Miller stated “I said ‘I don’t know where you are going to get the money. The possibilities are the general fund, the child support fund, the document storage fund, or the automation fund.’”
Chairman Kevin Reibel stated, “But what has changed is that a raise has been added to the $2,500.”
Miller answered, “You’re right, this is the first year the county has decided to pay a raise on the $2,500.”
“When did the county decide that?” questioned Board member Rod Fritz. “What’s your definition of ‘the county,’ you or the County [Board]?” Miller replied, “I’m not the county. I am but a lowly clerk.”
Fritz responded, “So, you’re saying the County Board agreed to that? Does anybody remember that?” Miller asked, “The County Board agreed to what, Rod?” Fritz replied, “To pay a raise on the $2,500.”
Miller stated, “I don’t know whether you have ever paid a raise on the $2,500. I don’t know that.” Fritz said, “You said we agreed to it.” Miller said, “This is what I know: I give the County $2,500 every year. Whether there has been a raise paid on that $2,500. I don’t know.”
Fritz interjected, “It never has. Until maybe now.”
Miller said, “So what changed this year? That contract has never changed in verbiage.” Fritz responded, “Then there’s no raise in the $2,500.”
Miller said, “If that’s your decision, then it becomes a union matter.”
Doty stated, “You’ve already signed your contract. You can’t change your agreement without renegotiating it.”
Doty explained the situation several more times and each time Miller argued that this contract was no different than previous contracts since 2000. Doty also explained that if this does not get corrected on the next contract, the interest will continue to compound and continue to eat up Miller’s budget.
Finally, Miller stated, “I’m going to go back and look at the contracts and I’ll figure it. But thank you for your opinion. I will take it under advisement and get back to you in written form. Thank you.”
Assessment: County Assessment Officer Annette Gruhn reported she had received the certification for the Illinois Department of Revenue. The equalization factor is 1 again this year. Median level of assessment for the whole county is 33.43 percent of market value.
Gruhn reported that the board of appeals was now in session. There have been 52 appeals filed. Gruhn stated, “That’s the lowest (number of appeals) we’ve had in quite a few (years). For the first time in twenty years, I’ve actually had somebody applied because they wanted their assessment to be increased.” She added, “You live long enough, you see it all, I guess.”
Animal Control: Animal Control Officer Joe Grimm reported the new kennels were paid for and in production. He expects delivery around February 20. He will need to wait until the weather warms up enough to leave the dogs outside to install them because it will take a couple of days.
Highway: County Highway Engineer Kevin Vandendooren reported that a carrier bearing was being installed in a truck that has had numerous repairs to replace the same bell housing. This should correct the problem.
Vandendooren noted that the bridge fund was running with a negative balance of $152,000. According to him, the balance will get back into the black as soon as they are reimbursed from the entities involved in the Sunshine bridge project. He is expecting to get back approximately $600,000 after the project is completed.
Plans for the Shannon Route should be finalized in the next couple of weeks. He is shooting for an April 23 letting.
With the mild winter so far, salt used by the highway department has been minimal. If things continue without much severe weather, they will have a surplus. Vandendooren is considering building another salt shed. The Salt Institute recommends the county keep enough salt on hand for the entire winter supply. For Carroll County, that is about 1,400 tons. The current storage capacity is 600 tons.
GIS: GIS Technician Jeremy Hughes reported that the Carroll County GIS website should be up and running in about a month.
Passed an electronic equipment resolution to cover the usage of the iPads the board members use.