Much of the May 9 County Board meeting was dominated by long discussions concerning PTO policy and staffing structure for Community Services. Commissioner Mitch Lentz was absent.
The county is in the process of updating its policies. The proposed update of the PTO policy has resulted in a lot of comments from employees.
Proposed new language: “Employees initially hired after 1/1/2018 shall have a PTO accrual cap of 400 hours.” “Current employees whose PTO is 400 hours or under as of 1/1/2018 shall be subject to the 400 hour cap.” “Current employees whose PTO is over 400 hours must reduce their PTO balance by no less than 50 hours by the end of each year until their balance is at or below 400 hours.”
Human Resources Officer Kristina Kohn said the proposed changes were discussed earlier this day at the Benefits Committee. Language changes are still being worked through.
Commissioner Duane Bakke explained that employees have options when using the 50 hours including cash, vacation time, or use of a tax deferred retirement program. He maintained the county wants to reduce its liabilities (spread them out over time) and still give employees what they have earned. The board wants the hours to be used over time instead of in one lump sum at the end.
Chairman Randy Dahl added that nothing is to be taken away. The county doesn’t pay any interest on accrued hours. If they are taken out and put into a retirement account, the funds can be tax deferred and earn interest. Kohn noted if it is taken out in cash, it will be taxable.
Bakke insisted we are not penalizing employees, but reducing the county’s liabilities while giving employees all they are owed.
The first reading of proposed updates to the following policies was made and discussed: Electronic Communication policy, Purchasing by Credit Card policy (no changes), and the Severance Pay policy.
Community Services Structure
Neva Beier, Social Services Manager, resigned recently. Bakke questioned whether candidates to fill her position will be interviewed by two commissioners or the full board? If the position is considered a department head position, the full board will interview the candidates.
Bakke noted County Coordinator Bobbie Vickerman was appointed to also act as Community Services Administrator starting in 2015. She had an early bump in pay that she would have received anyway in 2016. So, at this time she is performing additional duties with no additional pay. Bakke said it has worked great in the interim, but if the board had to advertise for her replacement as coordinator/community services administrator there would not be any applicants.
Kohn suggested they send her responsibilities in these two capacities to the county’s consultant for review.
Bakke argued that the Social Services Manager and others are really department heads. Make them department heads or hire a Community Services Administrator.
Vickerman commented that they could continue the Community Services structure. We just have to work together to be most efficient and effective.
Dahl agreed we have to look at job descriptions. But, a lot of what Vickerman does is Human Resources, which is part of the coordinator’s responsibilities. She speaks for the five commissioners.
Bakke said Vickerman has done a great job, but we should do what makes sense.
Commissioner Gary Peterson asked for a flow chart of the county structure. He suggested the board should have more relationships with these positions, adding we have to do a careful screening process.
Dahl said he wasn’t against the whole board interviewing the Social Services Manager candidates. But, he would prefer freeing up some of Vickerman’s time by hiring some lower paid help. The coordinator’s position is directly under the commissioners. Commissioner Marc Prestby said we should do a full board interview.
Peterson maintained Vickerman is doing way above what she should be expected to do. Prestby said the Community Services piece was added to Vickerman’s responsibilities on an interim basis to save money, adding I’m not sure we did. Dahl disagreed, saying we are saving money.
The full board will interview Social Service Manager candidates on May 23.
Other business in brief
• Vickerman reported it would cost a minimum of $68,233 with benefits for the county to hire a Solid Waste Administrator.
• Matt Harter discussed his proposal to provide services to the county that would fulfill the duties of a Solid Waste Administrator/Recycling Educator Coordinator. He said his employee would not always be physically on site. Prestby asked about updating the Solid Waste Ordinance, which has not been updated since 2010. Harter said they would review it and do that.
Compensation for the services if provided by Harter would be $4,887.50 per month ($58,650 per year).
Bakke expressed concerns about the safety of the personnel. Two employees work at the Recycling Center, but at times only one may be there. Harter said they could work something out for scheduled or unscheduled leave. Bakke asked who is going to let us know if Harter’s Quick Clean-up is not doing its job correctly? He said he appreciated the proposal, but wasn’t sure it would be a long term fix.
There was more discussion about the inappropriate dumping at the rural recycling dumpsters, especially near Spring Valley. It was suggested to install cameras and put signs up to let people know that people who abuse the service will be prosecuted.
• A request to advertise for the reconstruction of 5.5 miles of CSAH 1 from CSAH 4 to TH 30 was approved. Olmsted County will be working with Fillmore County to do the portion in Olmsted County.
• Approval was given of the 2017 ambulance contracts with the cities of Spring Valley, Chatfield, Mabel, Harmony, Lanesboro, Preston, and Rushford with an appropriation of $4,500 for each city. This is an annual budgeted appropriation.