Wright County Board Minutes

WRIGHT COUNTY BOARD MINUTES
AUGUST 17, 2010
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek, Thelen, and Eichelberg present.
On a motion by Russek, second by Thelen, all voted to approve the 8-10-10 County Board Minutes as presented.
Petitions were accepted to the Agenda as follows: Item For Consid. #3, “PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) Work Group Meeting, 8-26-09 @ 12:00 P.M., St. Cloud” (Russek). Eichelberg moved to approve the Agenda as amended, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0.
On a motion by Thelen, second by Russek, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:
A. ADMINISTRATION
1. Performance Appraisals: B. Hatfield, Bldg. Care.; C. Philippi, W. Peterson, Assr.; W. Stephens, P&Z.
2. O/T Report, Period Ending 8-06-10.
3. Schedule Closed Session Of The Personnel Committee Of The Whole For 10:30 A.M., 9-14-10, With Dr. Herreid, Sand Creek Group, To Evaluate The Performance Of Individuals Subject To The Authority Of The Board.
4. Refer To The Negotiation Committee Meeting Scheduled For 8-30-10 Discussion RE: Seasonal Employees In The Communications Division.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, presented the July Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines for approval. Hiivala said expenses are doing well. Revenues have been impacted by the State Aid unallotment. Some revenues are up, some are even, and some are low. Overall, they are okay. Eichelberg moved to accept the July Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0.
On a motion by Russek, second by Eichelberg, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit. Russek commented on the high cost of Jail medical.
A Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting was held on 8-09-10. At today’s County Board Meeting, Richard Norman, County Coordinator, stated that two days after the Committee Meeting, he received a letter from Pat O’Malley accepting the position of Jail Administrator, effective 8-11-01, at Step 3. The following correction was made to the minutes: Page 1, Others Present, should read, “Todd Hoffman” (Norman). Russek moved to approve the minutes and recommendations, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0:
Mattson stated that he feels this Meeting has been called based on some concerns he stated at the 7-20-10 County Board Meeting. He is concerned that the private sector isn’t hiring. There is a desperate need for jobs and the foreclosure rate still is on the rise, yet, the government is still hiring. Sawatzke noted that the entire Board agreed to come back to discuss this issue. Norman reminded the Committee that the positions being discussed today are as a result of people leaving. These are not new positions; simply replacements. The Personnel Committee met on 7-14-10 and they recommended filling the positions, and subsequently, the County Board decided to meet again for further discussion. Mattson noted that in the private sector, vacant positions aren’t replaced. They remain vacant.
Thelen stated that these positions were reviewed at the 7-14-10 Personnel Committee Meeting. The Committee felt it had good justification to fill these positions as they were deemed essential. She stated that she is aware that there are problems in the private sector. The County has a job to do and these vacant positions are necessary. She stated that the County Board isn’t going to solve its budget problems by penalizing Departments where there is turnover. She noted that the minutes were read at the 7-20-10 County Board Meeting. She stated that she hears her constituents want their government to run effectively. Those people that are without jobs are now coming to the County’s Human Services Department looking for assistance. The constituents like roads and they like the Sheriff’s Office. She stated that the reason for today’s meeting is to discuss the Jail Administrator Starting Wage. She asked the Committee to let everybody go back to their jobs and dispense with Agenda Item I.
Mattson stated that he doesn’t deny that there is a need for these positions. He stated that it is his opinion that the County has to live within its means.
Sawatzke stated that he understood that this all got laid over despite him voting against bringing it here. He stated that since everybody is here, the entire agenda should be discussed as planned. Thelen stated that she apologizes because she stated she didn’t understand what the Board was voting on. She stated that it got confusing. She voted incorrectly on the motion.
I. POSITION OPENINGS.
A. Corrections (2).
Norman stated that he made the statement at the 7-14-10 meeting that these positions are essential to follow the Jail Staffing Plan. By not filling these positions, a significant amount of overtime would be created. G. Miller stated that the Sheriff’s Office has been a willing partner to meet the financial needs of the County. The Sheriff’s Office agreed to leave five positions open. He stated that he provided a budget which was set in December and he has abided by his promise not to fill five positions. He stated that he doesn’t feel that sending a symbolic message to the public by creating a shortfall in his Office would be beneficial to anybody. He stated that his Office has honored its commitment, and they need to fill these two positions.
O’Malley stated that the Jail is a 24-hour operation. These two vacancies are due to two employees retiring. Without them, the posts still have to be filled, and more overtime would be required. Occasional overtime is beneficial for some employees. However, when overtime is required, it can create morale issues and hamper the ability to do the job. He stated that their request is to keep the staffing level at the same level as it was. Sawatzke asked what the Jail’s current staff contingency is if these positions are filled. O’Malley stated that there are 65 employees including the Captain; forty-five employees are Correction Officers. Sawatzke asked what the current number of inmates is in the Jail. O’Malley stated that the average daily population through the end of June was 129. This is higher than when the new Jail/LEC opened. O’Malley stated that in the old Jail, the County could house 80-85 inmates, and board 15 inmates. The count has climbed over the past year and a half. Sawatzke asked what the County is licensed to operate at. O’Malley stated the County is licensed for 167 inmates.
Sawatzke asked what the claim from Norix Group, Inc. for $14,390.28 is for. O’Malley stated that their jail count has been running in the 150s. Prior to Torfin’s retirement, he determined that a pod should be filled with furniture and set up in preparation for overflow. O’Malley stated that additional staff would not be required if an additional pod was opened. O’Malley stated that Torfin informed him that he spoke with someone on the Board and it was his understanding that everybody was aware he was doing this. Sawatzke asked whether the Sheriffs Department would inform the County Board prior to opening another pod. O’Malley stated yes.
Eichelberg and Russek stated they are in favor of recommending replacing these two positions. Sawatzke stated that unless the County’s staffing plan is changed with the State, the County is required to fill these two positions. Mattson stated that his opinion stands. He is not happy to fill these positions, but is aware that it is necessary.
RECOMMENDATION: Authorize request to hire two (2) Corrections Officers.
B. Deputy Sheriff.
Hagerty stated that the Sheriff’s Department has held off on filling five of its Deputy Sheriff positions. Another vacancy occurred after a Deputy accepted a position with the DNR in Wisconsin six weeks ago. He stated that the recent vacancy has been filled by other Divisions (i.e. School Resource Officers). Russek stated that he is in favor of filling this position since safety is a big concern in the County and with the County Board. Eichelberg agreed with Russek’s recommendation. Hagerty commented that there is always a gap between a termination and hire which is a financial savings to the County because the background investigation is a lengthy process.
RECOMMENDATION: Authorize request to hire one Deputy Sheriff.
C. Assistant Jail Administrator, Corrections.
Discussion was put on hold until after the discussion occurred for the Jail Administrator Starting Wage.
RECOMMENDATION: Lay over agenda topic.
D. Legal Secretary.
Asleson stated that he is familiar with this request and the need for filling the position. Krystal Tilbury is leaving the Attorney’s Office on 8-20-10. Tom Kelly had asked her to submit her resignation letter early because there is a maternity leave coming soon as well. The Attorney’s Office has been short a legal secretary since 2008. As of August, 2010, the Office will be down three positions. Tilbury was in the Misdemeanor Division and a Legal Secretary from another Division will have to move into this Division since the heaviest caseload is with traffic tickets. Three attorneys are kept busy in court with misdemeanors. The secretaries are the backbone of this Division. Sawatzke asked how many legal secretaries are in the Attorney’s Office. Asleson stated that there are a total of ten.
RECOMMENDATION: Authorize request to hire one Legal Secretary.
E. Information Systems Specialist (ISS).
DeMars stated that there are four ISS positions in the Agency. Sue Elletson received a promotion to fill Dorothy Schillewaert’s position. Demars stated that the ISS position serves as a liaison between I.T. and Human Services. A lot of the work within Human Services is automated. The ISS is the behind-the-scenes person that keeps everything operating smoothly. Elletson has not been able to fulfill her new position because of her obligation to her old position as an ISS. Sawatzke asked what would happen if this position didn’t get filled. DeMars stated that he has been filling in on Schillewaert’s old position. He stated that staff would have to work more hours, and business productivity would slow down.
RECOMMENDATION: Authorize request to hire one Information Systems Specialist.
F. Senior Office Support Specialist (OSS).
Schwartz stated that they have been down a Senior OSS position since late June due to a promotion within the Agency to a Financial Worker. She stated that the front reception receives 5,000 calls per quarter. Currently, there is only one full-time person manning that station. Temporary staff supplied by the Central Minnesota Jobs & Training occasionally assist with the walk-ins. However, this is not always reliable. Sawatzke questioned the role of the temporary staff. Schwartz stated that through a grant, Central Minnesota Jobs & Training supplies temporary help to those who have lost their jobs. It is an effort to give work to the unemployed who receive financial assistance. Their wages are paid for by Central MN Jobs & Training. The goal is to find them a job. She noted that last week’s temp did not make it through the week. She stated that it was because they were overwhelmed by the workload. She stated that the goal of the Agency is to remain fully staffed. Sawatzke asked whether Human Services will be asking for an additional position after Central MN Jobs & Training cease their assistance to the Agency. Schwartz stated that they will not be asking for a position based on skilled temporary workers. Sawatzke asked Schwartz whether Human Services would be asking for any new positions as part of their 2011 budget. Schwartz stated that there are no new positions budgeted for 2011.
Eichelberg stated that there is a need for this position. He stated that he has been contacted by several constituents that have inquired as to how long it takes to receive a response from Human Services. Eichelberg commented that he has instructed them to keep checking with the Agency.
Schwartz stated that this position is partially funded (47% reimbursement). She stated that this position also issues electronic funds transfer cards. The Agency provides food support within 24-hours to those in need. Part of this funding is due to the Agency’s commitment to provide food support assistance within 24 hours. Last year, over $5,000,000 in assistance (not all in food support) as distributed in the State of Minnesota.
RECOMMENDATION: Authorize request to hire one Senior Office Support Specialist.
G. Financial Workers (2), Human Services.
Schwartz stated that one of their Financial Workers took a demotion for another position in the Family Services Unit, and another took a promotion within the Agency. Since January, 2009, public assistance applications have grown by 40%. These positions deal with minors needing food support and cash assistance. Eichelberg and Thelen both agreed that these two positions are essential.
RECOMMENDATION: Authorize request to fill two Financial Worker positions.
H. Temporary Mechanic, Highway.
Jans stated that he is looking to temporarily replace one of his heavy equipment mechanics. He stated that one of his mechanics will be out on medical leave for approximately six months. He noted that there is a provision within the 49rs contract regarding seasonal help. Pawelk stated that due to the provision, the temporary employee could work up to 120 days. Eichelberg stated that this was additional information since the 7-14-10 Personnel Committee Meeting. Eichelberg stated that this position is essential with the winter season soon approaching.
Sawatzke asked whether the employee on medical leave is receiving sick leave and vacation benefits. Norman stated yes. Mattson asked how many weeks of light duty the employee would have upon return. Jans stated that he did not know. Sawatzke asked how many mechanics the Highway Department has. Jans stated that they have three heavy equipment mechanics and one mechanic that is solely used for maintenance on the Sheriff squad cars. Jans stated that he has been filling in as needed since the employee went on medical leave. Sawatzke asked what will happen until the position is filled. He stated that he did not know. Jans stated that the D.O.T. inspections were scheduled before fall so that the trucks wouldn’t be held up during the winter season. The squad car mechanic has more than he can handle. He stated that both heavy equipment mechanics will be taking vacations this fall. An option, if a temporary mechanic can’t be found, is to outsource the vehicles and equipment which can be very costly. Sawatzke asked whether the temporary mechanic would be working in conjunction with the employee upon his return. Jans stated no. Either the employee has to be able to return to work at full capacity, or the temporary mechanic will stay until that is possible.
Norman stated that the conditions of the temporary worker’s employment will be worked out with the Business Agent.
RECOMMENDATION: Authorize request to seek a temporary Mechanic.
II. JAIL ADMINISTRATOR STARTING WAGE.
G. Miller gave a review of how today’s discussion came about.
He stated that initially this discussion was brought to the 2-10-10 Personnel Committee Meeting in light of Captain Torfin’s anticipated retirement. During the meeting it was discussed that the job description would need to be rewritten. The job description was rewritten, the replacement was approved, and the salary was discussed. Sawatzke inquired as to the salary amount of the position. In the minutes, Norman stated that the 2010 salary is $83,597. He noted that another discussion took place at that same meeting regarding a Family Based Services Provider with a starting salary of $15.23/hour. G. Miller stated that Torfin’s retirement day approached and O’Malley became the successful applicant. O’Malley went to Personnel and was informed that his salary would start at Step 3 on the Salary Schedule at $69,712. O’Malley didn’t feel that this was acceptable and inquired about an appeals process. He was informed that there wasn’t an appeals process but the Sheriff could call for a Personnel Committee Meeting to discuss the topic. The Committee met on 7-14-10 with Thelen and Eichelberg present. During the discussion, G. Miller gave his position about following past practice in setting the salary for the promotion. Eichelberg and Thelen felt that the discussion should be forwarded to the Personnel Committee Of The Whole. He is here today to provide information to the Committee regarding why he feels there is a salary set for this position based on past practices in the Sheriffs Department.
G. Miller stated that the reality is that there has been a decade long practice in the Sheriffs Administration of setting salaries for the top supervisory positions. There have been 22 such promotions within his Department. In each case, a salary was set and the promotion occurred. County Board Minutes will reflect that during each of these promotions, past practice was always discussed. There was a consistent effort to match the anniversary date of the incumbent with the appointment date of the incoming promotion. This was to prevent any disparity in salary. He stated again that a salary was discussed at the 2-10-10 Personnel Committee Meeting. He stated that it is his opinion that he thinks the salary for O’Malley’s promotion has now changed due to a recent discussion pertaining to a Lead Clerk Supervisor’s position. He stated that the outcome of the Lead Clerk Supervisor position discussion still does not change the reality that salaries have been based on past practice. He stated that he has heard that there is a perception that the Sheriff’s Department has an unfair system and there is better pay in the Sheriff’s Department. He stated that the pay scale system changed in the late 1990s by the County Board to comply with the Pay Equity Act. He noted that the pay scale was on paper only and wasn’t used within the Sheriff’s Department in terms of supervisory promotions. He stated that the reality was that these salary increases were negotiated within their contracts.
G. Miller stated that now, there has been a game change. He stated that he has been told O’Malley will receive a different salary than what was assumed based on past practice. He stated that this flies in the face of fairness and past practice. Past practice carries the weight of a contract. Past practice in the Sheriff’s Department has been carried through 22 promotions. He stated that O’Malley’s position is the second most important position in his Department. This position has Department Head responsibilities. The State Legislature has recognized the Jail as having its own budget. He stated that the County Board has now placed the starting salary of this position below some of the top paid Patrol Deputies. He stated that this is not logical. He stated that it is his opinion that no employee would ever take on more responsibilities for less pay. He stated that this destroys the ability of the Sheriff to promote his employees to the top positions within the Office. He argued that the County Board’s system of pay was to alleviate the pay equity problem; however, it was never followed in the supervisory positions within the Sheriff’s Department.
G. Miller stated that the intent of the County Board, based on the 2-10-10 Personnel Committee Minutes, was that O’Malley’s starting salary would have been $83,597. Norman stated that he would like to clarify the content of the 2-10-10 Personnel Committee Meeting Minutes. He stated that the second page of those minutes reflect a conversation between him and Sawatzke. Sawatzke did ask what the salary was for the position. Norman responded that the 2010 salary was $83,597. He stated that in no way was he indicating what would be O’Malley’s starting salary. The 2010 salary for Captain Torfin was $83,597. Miller stated that earlier in the meeting a beginning salary was stated for the Family Based Services Provider. He stated that no salary range was ever discussed for the Jail Administrator position. He stated that the discussion at the Meeting indicated who would be the likely candidate to take Torfin’s position. He stated that he thinks it was the intent of the County Board to pay the incoming candidate the outgoing salary of the incumbent. He stated that he would be happy to supply the County Board with minutes from other County Board Meetings at promotional junctures in his Office where past practice dictated the salary. He stated that O’Malley’s proposed starting salary is a complete 180 degree turn from past practice.
Sawatzke stated that he doesn’t remember his exact question expressed in the minutes of the 2-10-10 Personnel Committee Meeting. He stated that at the time of the meeting, they weren’t certain if O’Malley would be the successful candidate for the position. The discussion following the salary discussion was about the hiring process. It wasn’t to discuss what O’Malley’s salary was going to be. He stated that he thinks Miller’s statement is inaccurate. The salary discussion was not reflective of what the external or internal candidate would make subsequent to the vacancy of the Jail Administration position. Miller stated that the Minutes read as they read. He stated that the minutes are consistent with all other minutes of discussions at other County Board Meetings during promotion discussions. He stated that it was their understanding when leaving the 2-10-10 Personnel Committee Meeting that his salary would be $83,597. He stated that no discussion occurred during the hiring process about starting salary. O’Malley only found out about his new starting salary when he went up to Personnel to accept the position.
Sawatzke stated that he has been on the County Board since 1991. He stated that a majority of the 22 promotions in the Sheriff’s Department were sergeants to lieutenants. There was a time when persons went from a sergeant union position to a lieutenant non-union position. G. Miller stated that during Sheriff Hozempa’s time, there were no steps or a pay scale; only salary. Sawatzke stated that in the licensed areas of the Sheriffs Department, steps were created to protect Lieutenant promotions. Lieutenants potentially took a pay cut because they weren’t able to accumulate overtime pay. He stated that O’Malley is in a different situation because he is not changing from a union overtime position to a non-union no-overtime position. Both positions are salaried. He will be receiving a pay increase with this promotion. Sawatzke stated that it is his opinion that O’Malley is getting treated better than a lieutenant promotion position. G. Miller stated that he disagrees with Sawatzke’s analogy. He stated that there has been a practice established firmly within the Sheriff’s Department. He noted that the 2010 salary has been budgeted and levied for. He stated that it would not cost the County any more to do what is right and fair, which in his mind would be to offer $83,597 as the starting salary. He stated that it is his opinion that the County Board is changing its argument to fit its interests just as it did during the Lead Clerk Supervisor promotion discussion. G. Miller discussed that there are different pay systems and different contracts within the Sheriffs Department. He stated that the County can’t ask a Lieutenant to give up overtime and take less of a salary, so that is why a pay scale was established.
Thelen stated that she is not familiar with labor law and past practices. She asked whether it would be in the interest of the County Board to consult with a labor attorney about this matter. G. Miller stated that he has some experience in labor law due to having to deal with disciplinary action, terminations, and collective bargaining agreement administration. He stated that long established past practice carries the weight of contractual obligations. Norman stated that it can depend on the arbitrator’s interpretation.
Norman asked whether O’Malley’s intent, if he did accept the position at Step 3, would be to grieve the process based on past practice. Sawatzke asked how O’Malley could grieve the process if he accepts the position. G. Miller stated that he feels that the County Board has to understand the ramifications of their action. These are union positions. In this position, O’Malley had to negotiate his salary. He stated that there are ramifications to the candidate, the bargaining unit, and the current and incoming Sheriff.
Norman stated that the supervisors in the Sheriffs Department formed a union in 1994. They were represented by the Teamsters. Norman read a letter from Frank Madden dated 9-15-94. The letter was addressed to Norman and stated, “As a follow-up to our mediation session on September 14, 1994, enclosed is a summary of the tentative agreement reached between the parties, which, it is my understanding has already been ratified by the union. If you have any questions regarding the tentative agreement before submission to the County Board for review and proposed adoption, please contact me. Norman stated that on 9-19-94, Lowell Lynch, Business Agent for the Teamsters Sheriff Supervisors, wrote a follow up letter to Madden, stating “I am in general agreement, however, in order to avoid any confusion I feel it is essential to document how these employees will walk through the schedule as agreed to by the parties at the Mediation Session on Wednesday, September 14, 1994.” Norman outlined the salary schedule as written in the letter: Chief Deputy Don Lindell at that time was making $45,549. On 1-1-94, he would make $46,005 (Step 4); on 6-12-94, he would make $48,421 (Step 5); on 1-1-95, he would make $49,389; on 1-1-96, he would make $50,877; and on 6-12-96, he would make $53,166 (Step 7). Norman noted that the letter outlined a similar schedule for the Captain Jail Administrator, Gary Torfin, Captain Gary Miller, and Assistant Jail Administrator, Korb Schweitering. Sawatzke asked what step Torfin would have been on. Norman stated that he would have been on Step 4. He noted that he did not consult with payroll to confirm that they indeed made the amounts as outlined in the letter. Sawatzke stated that he thinks Torfin was in his position for four years and was placed at Step 4 on the pay scale. Norman stated that it does appear that the people involved in the Teamsters union moved through a step system. Norman stated that there wasn’t a Step 6 back then. This is why they stayed on Step 5 for two years before moving to Step 7. G. Miller stated that they are aware of these agreements. He was in that unit in 1994. These steps are in line with the contract agreements that were made with all of the employees. There was a cost of living and a step increase. These were negotiated after the promotions were created. He noted that he and Torfin were at the same Captain rank. At that time, the Captains were told that an additional step would be added to the Captains pay scale to separate the Captains from the Lieutenants. G. Miller stated that nothing in the letters is inconsistent with what he stated to the County Board Members today. Sawatzke stated that it is his understanding that after Don Lindell already served nine years as Chief Deputy he went to the top of the pay schedule in 2000. Hoffman stated that he had to be reappointed when Sheriff Miller became Sheriff.
Norman distributed Policy, “205 Probationary Period”. He referenced the last page (Compensation Guide) of the Policy that states: “Promotion: employee is moved to the next highest salary of the new classification.” Norman stated that with the exception of the POST Board Certified (Deputy Sheriffs) positions, this has been the case for the last 27 years he has worked in the County. Norman then distributed a list of promotions with their correlating step and wage information (see attached). He stated that the document shows how they have been consistent on how the County promoted people in supervisory positions, and other positions as well. Norman then distributed a list which was created by Lee Kelly, Special Projects Administrator, which documents what other Counties do in promotional situations:
Benton: Minimum salary increase of 5.5% over the employee’s base pay or step one of the new salary range, whichever is greater.
Carver: Shall be placed on new salary range and generally reflect an increase of 5-9%. Anything higher requires approval of the County Administrator. In the AFSCME Unit, they move to a higher salary classification, or any step above the entry step with an increase of at least and as close to 4 1/2% as possible.
Scott: They move up to the midpoint of a pay grade as authorized by hiring supervisor. Washington: Moves to a new salary level. The new rate is at least 4% higher than an employee’s previous salary, but does not exceed the maximum for the level.
Stearns: Promoted to higher salary range at the step closest to 6% above the salary from which promoted.
Sherburne: Salary increase of 4% or the minimum rate of the new grade, whichever is greater.
Thelen asked why the Sheriff Office members in attendance were shaking their heads during Norman’s explanation of the Compensation Guide as it pertains to promotions with the exception of POST Board Certified Deputies. G. Miller stated that POST Board Certified and the Lead Clerk Supervisors were promoted to the top of the pay scale. Subsequently, a year after the Lead Clerk Supervisors were promoted, they were reclassified to a higher classification. He stated that the County has consistently tried to maintain an 8 1/2% pay differential between the ranks. The Board has made the case that the County’s promotional structure is different than the Sheriff’s Department. This has been past practice.
Sawatzke asked Norman whether Teresa Doerr’s pay increase was due to meeting comparable worth standards in 1997. He stated that Sheriff Hozempa argued that Diane Lange’s position should be treated in the same manner. Those two positions got pay increases to keep the County in compliance. Miller stated that the Lead Clerk Supervisor position was created to meet comparable worth. Teresa Doerr was promoted to fill this position. Sheriff Hozempa was upset that he was not consulted and that Diane Lange was not given a promotion. He argued that it wasn’t a reclassification of positions; these two positions were created to keep the County in compliance with Pay Equity.
Sawatzke stated there was action taken to get the County in compliance with the State’s mandate of comparable worth by December 31, 1997. He stated that it is his opinion that in retrospect, the County shouldn’t have done it that way.
G. Miller stated that he would agree that comparable worth was the motivation for why the County has developed its process. G. Miller stated that his Department has been consistent 22 times in its process for promotions. He stated that it has been a process that has been long established and it works. He stated again that the Jail Administrator position is a top level position with points to pay that are higher than that of a Patrol Deputy.
O’Malley stated that he is here today to argue his wage. O’Malley stated that there is a lot of history regarding past practice. He stated that he has done a lot of research. In accepting the position as Assistant Jail Administrator, he had some input in negotiating his salary. He stated that he is not asking for a raise. This is not an 11.5% increase as stated in previous meetings. This position has a different starting salary. He stated that he is taking a position that is at the top of the chain within the Sheriff’s Office; it has the seventh highest points-to-pay in the 2008 Pay Equity Report. This position is budgeted for $83,597 as stated in the 2-10-10 Personnel Committee Meeting. He noted that the question placed at that meeting wasn’t to ask what Torfin’s salary would be in 2010; it was “What was the salary for the position?” After the research that has been done, it has become evident that there is a past practice within the Sheriff’s Department in regard to taking deference for experience when considering outside hires. The County has a long standing practice to promote positions to the top step. At the Lead Clerk Supervisory discussion during the 5-12-10 Personnel Committee Meeting, G. Miller asked the County Board to be consistent with the Sheriff’s Office and hiring practices. O’Malley stated that Sawatzke clarified in those minutes that a salary increase was given to Sergeants promoted to Lieutenants because of the opportunity to earn overtime pay. O’Malley stated that in taking that argument, if he were to start at Step 3, he would be making less than all current Lieutenants, 19 Sergeants, and several of the Deputies based on 2009 wages. He stated that in 2007, the County argued in contract arbitration with the 320 Supervisory Unit that they maintain an 8.7% differential between those positions. Starting at Step 3, that argument would be null and void. He would be starting at less than all of those positions.
O’Malley stated that he understands Mattson’s concern regarding the public’s animosity toward government regarding additional hiring and he understands what is going on in the private sector. He stated that most of that animosity is directed toward the State and Federal level where there are layers of personnel. He stated that Wright County has always been fairly conservative. These are services that need to be provided. The County needs to keep their good employees who want to do a good job and work hard. The County needs to pay them. Cutting people or cutting wages isn’t going to save anything. The 2010 Jail Administrator wage was budgeted for. He stated that he listed his qualifications at the last Personnel Committee Meeting.
Sawatzke stated that this discussion is the most troublesome for him. He stated that he doesn’t enjoy arguing against O’Malley’s salary and considers O’Malley as one of the County’s best employees. He stated that everybody assumed that O’Malley would get the job and knew that he will be good at it. Sawatzke noted a few other employees that were promoted that are good employees and received nominal increases (as presented on the handout that Norman distributed earlier).
O’Malley stated that he is not here to argue what the County has done in other Departments. He stated that past practice within the Sheriffs Department shows otherwise.
Eichelberg asked if there was a range posted in the advertisement for the hiring of a new Jail Administrator. Brown stated that Personnel usually posts a hiring range in the employment ad. Sometimes there is a “starting salary” posted. She stated that Personnel can structure their help ads as they choose. She noted that they can hire an employee at a starting salary up to Step 3.
O’Malley stated that the Personnel Policy & Procedure Manual speaks to how an applicant’s past experience and training is taken into consideration when considering a starting salary. He stated that this was demonstrated during the replacement of Tom Zins, and the hiring of Brad Hatfield. He stated that this happened with him when he came in as Assistant Jail Administrator.
Eichelberg asked whether the salary of an outside hire would be negotiated within a range or would it automatically start at $83,597. O’Malley stated no, not necessarily.
Thelen asked whether there is an argument for why the Sheriff’s Department should be different than other Departments. O’Malley stated that it is his personal opinion that it could be done the same across the board. G. Miller stated that he will accept at face value that the County Board has been consistent with other Departments in the County. He stated that he feels that he has not been successful in illustrating how the Sheriff’s Department has a long standing practice for addressing promotions. He stated that since 1991, the Department has grown exponentially. Since that time, a system was put into place specific to the Sheriff’s Department taking into account the comparable worth consideration. The argument is that the Sheriff’s Department has been different in order to accommodate a set pay differential.
Norman stated that the County is going through a Classification Study. He stated that the end result may show a lot of classifications that need adjustment. He stated that he is hearing arguments that would be presented at arbitration if it were to go to that. He asked that the Committee develop a recommendation to be forwarded to the County Board Meeting.
Sawatzke stated that he would be in favor of the County Board to either offer the position as the Policy states or offer him the position at what he is requesting. G. Miller stated that these are supervisory positions (from Lead Clerk Supervisor to Chief Deputy) in th
e Sheriffs Department. G. Miller stated that he agrees that the County Board should follow its past practice with this position and vote on the position salary. Thelen asked if perhaps the County Board should consult with a labor lawyer or Brian Asleson regarding the legal implications. Russek stated that Frank Madden would not offer advice regarding this matter. This is for the County Board to determine. Thelen stated that she is very curious about past practice and she is very interested in avoiding any legal challenge. Sawatzke stated that it is the County Board’s decision to set the starting salary. The Personnel Office did what they thought the Policy called for. Asleson stated that he can’t offer any advice.
Mattson asked O’Malley what he is asking for as a starting salary on a range of 3-9 on the pay scale. O’Malley stated that based on all of the research he has done, he’d like to be treated in the same manner as if he had been licensed and what everybody had assumed he would have started at. O’Malley stated that he distributed a graph (see attached) comparing the salaries of the proposed Jail Administrator salary to Deputy, Sergeant, Lieutenant, and Captain. The proposed starting salary is at Step 3 and the graph shows how the other positions are making more than the Jail Administrator.
Eichelberg stated that this has been confusing. He stated that there are two different areas of practice: one for the Sheriffs Department and one for everybody else. Looking at what has been distributed by the Personnel Department, it is hard to make a decision. He stated that it is very difficult to go along with the request to start O’Malley at the top step. He stated that he is leaning toward the Personnel Department’s decision.
O’Malley stated that there are different practices amongst the bargaining units. Not every group of people are treated exactly the same.
Russek stated that he too will go along with the recommendation of the Personnel Department. He stated that there is a process to climb the ladder and several others had to climb the ladder to get to their position and subsequent pay.
Thelen stated that she takes into consideration that Sheriff Miller has stated this is the second highest position in the Sheriffs Department. She stated that it is significant that he will be making less than 7 Deputies, 19 Sergeants, and all Lieutenants. She asked whether there is room for compromise between the top and third step. Mattson stated that he would not be in favor of going any higher than Step 7.
Sawatzke stated that he would go along with Eichelberg and Russek and offer the position to O’Malley at Step 3. He stated that he hopes O’Malley accepts the position.
Eichelberg stated that O’Malley stated that he gave the answer that he would only entertain the top step. O’Malley didn’t offer a negotiation, which is why he decided upon Step 3.
RECOMMENDATION: Authorize the starting wage of the Jail Administrator Position at Step 3.
(End of 8-09-10 Personnel Committee Minutes)
The Board discussed a request submitted by Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, to adopt a resolution approving an Agency Agreement with Mn/DOT for a Safe Routes to School Project in Otsego. The Agreement allows for Mn/DOT to act as the County’s agent in accepting Federal aid in connection with this project. Fingalson was not present at the meeting. The Board questioned the financial impacts on the County, when the Agreement must be approved by, and the termination clause. The Board decided to contact Fingalson for more information. The meeting was recessed at 9:16 A.M. for this purpose and reconvened at 9:21 A.M. Russek said Fingalson explained this is a standard agreement relating to engineering. Construction will include a separate bid. Similar agreements are held with other cities. Russek moved to adopt Resolution #10-31, approving the Agency Agreement with Mn/DOT for a Safe Routes to School Project in Otsego. The motion was seconded by Sawatzke and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
On a motion by Russek, second by Sawatzke, all voted to authorize attendance at the AMC PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) Work Group Meeting in St. Cloud on 8-26-10.
Bills Approved
Allina Home Oxygen & Med. $128.26
Allina Hospitals & Clinics 1,508.31
American Solutions for Bus 524.63
Ameripride Services 384.84
Annandale Rock Products 159.56
Anoka County Corrections 13,120.00
APEC Industrial Sales & Serv. 2,561.97
Aramark Services Inc. 13,692.19
Arctic Glacier Inc. 850.98
Barker Co./Bob 400.00
Borrett/Jim 100.00
Budget Towing Inc. 347.34
Buff N Glo Inc. 282.52
Centra Sota Lake Region LLC 6,948.12
Central Fire Protection 415.29
Climate Air 11,836.98
Collins Brothers Towing 154.97
Consulting Radiologists Ltd 210.00
Cub Foods 363.05
Cub Pharmacy 3,634.96
Dell Marketing LP 3,034.69
Employers Association Inc. 2,555.00
Engel/Dale L. 625.00
Frontier Precision Inc. 498.26
Gabriel/Cathleen 200.00
Gale-Tec Engineering Inc. 2,806.25
Grainger 639.15
Hillyard Inc. - Minneapolis 1,687.49
Interstate All Battery Cent 166.03
Junction Towing & Auto Repair 1,269.68
Karels Towing 171.00
Koen/Andre 350.00
Kramber/Greg 194.00
Lakedale Telephone Company 299.55
LaPlant Demo Inc. 332.50
Marco 352.76
Mattson/Richard 108.38
Metro Group Inc./The 5,836.91
Middleville Township 528.80
Midwest Protection Agency 812.44
MN Oral and Maxillofacial 708.00
Monticello Auto Body Inc. 299.24
Morries Parts & Service Group 2,144.57
North Central Truck Equip 2,337.36
North Suburban Towing Inc. 213.75
Northern Safety Technology 559.78
Novacare Outpatient Rehab 199.40
Office Depot 1,746.20
ORyans Conoco 150.00
Performance Kennels Inc. 207.06
Peterson Machinery/GC 4,351.94
Prairie Lakes Youth Program 8,736.00
Pts of America LLC 1,861.05
Qwest 6,861.06
Ramacciotti/Frank 100.00
Royal Tire Inc. 2,370.97
Safariland Training Group 437.43
SEH 17,901.00
Spectrum Solutions 7,731.05
State of MN-Office Enterprise 1,335.00
Towmaster 4,817.58
Trimin Government Solution 6,082.50
Uniforms Unlimited 1,206.31
West Payment Center 939.27
Wright Co. Highway Dept. 23,790.95
Wright Hennepin Coop Elec 3,674.88
Wright Hennepin Electric 737.52
37 Payments less than $100 1,768.44
Final total $183,360.17
The meeting adjourned at 9:23 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal Sept. 20, 2010.


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