Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 20, 2014

Supervisors differ on compensating Craff

By DIANE VANCE | Dec 04, 2013

The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors revisited the job of General Assistance administrator Monday and agreed to have current administrator Ray Chambers track the number of people served and number of hours devoted per week to General Assistance duties and meetings.

Last week, Chambers, who also is the county’s director of Veterans Affairs Commission, informed the supervisors the number of veterans he’s seeing has been increasing. He asked to be able to devote all his hours to serving veterans and let the mental health office handle General Assistance.

Chambers works 26 hours a week and splits the time working for the two county agencies.

“I said last week I’d take it,” said Sandy Stever, Central Point of Coordination, mental health administrator for the county. “But I’m not going to do it for no wage increase for Leah.”

Stever’s assistant in the mental health office, Leah Craff, is at the bottom of the pay scale, Stever told the supervisors. Stever said she and her assistant would both work on General Assistance, but she planned to give the funds that go with the department as wages to Craff.

Last week, Chambers gave a rounded budget figure of $6,000 he receives for General Assistance duties, but said Monday it’s actually $5,100.

The Veterans Affairs Commission receives an annual $10,000 grant “that can be used for nearly anything except direct veteran relief,” said Chambers.

He planned to make up his pay differential, $5,100, out of the grant. He would increase the time spent serving veterans by six hours per week.

“We don’t know what Sandy’s potential job description will look like with the regional mental health system,” said supervisor chairman Lee Dimmitt.

“Leah has taken on quite a bit of work in the past year. I understand Dick’s [supervisor Reed] reasoning to save taxpayers’ money, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask another department to take additional duties without compensation,” said Dimmitt.

Reed asked Chambers how urgently the change is needed.

“We’re coming up on budget planning time and we’ll look at all the salaries then,” said Reed. “Why don’t we wait to make a change then. It will give us more time to collect information about the regional mental health system.”

Each Jefferson County department presents its budget to the board of supervisors in January and February. The board holds a public hearing to adopt a new budget each March.

The fiscal year ends June 30 and a new one begins July 1.

“For Leah to get a middle-of-the-year pay raise is unusual,” said Reed. “My question last week was could your office do the job.”

Stever said the two of them could.

“If it means we’re working 45 hours a week, we will,” she said.

Reed said even with changes coming to the county mental health office because of regionalization, it’s likely the county would still see the same number of people for mental health issues as before.

“The issue is the General Assistance budget is $5,100 and I’m not going to take the work without the money,” said Stever. “Let Ray keep it.”

Reed asked her, “Who do you work for? You’re hired and fired by the board of supervisors.”

Dimmitt said the board could ask another department to take the duties instead.

“Sandy and Leah are full-time employees, working full-time jobs … then it’s not the proper place to put General Assistance,” said Dimmitt.

Supervisor Becky Schmitz said her best guess is that other than additional regional mental health meetings to attend, the day-to-day workload in Stever’s office would not be affected much by regionalization.

“I agree the CPC office is the best fit for General Assistance,” said Reed. “But to give someone a $5,100 pay increase mid-year … if I was running a business, I wouldn’t do it.”

Dimmitt said giving an employee a raise just to give them a raise is one thing.

“But to increase one’s workload, they should be compensated,” said Dimmitt.

“If Leah can pick up all these additional hours per week, what is she doing now?” said Reed.

Stever reiterated that she would share the additional workload, just not the wages.

Reed said a wage review should be done.

“We could make this change in January and have Sandy do a time study about how much time is devoted to General Assistance and how much is devoted to mental health,” said Schmitz.

In other business Monday, the supervisors:

• Approved an employee holiday schedule decided by department heads. The county courthouse will close only on Christmas and New Year’s Day, both on a Wednesday this year.

Department heads will have discretion to allow employees time off before and after the holidays, which will count as using vacation time.

• Heard resident Steve Ulicny outline a concern about a subdivision near 185th Street and Jasmine Avenue.

He said a property owner has placed old, unsightly trailers on neighboring land. Ulicny said all of the neighbors object to the unoccupied trailers.

“We don’t have building codes or zoning laws in the county,” said Reed. “The board of supervisors approve boundaries and lines for subdivisions and can review covenants, but we don’t undo making subdivisions.

“This is a civil issue. It’s not anything we have jurisdiction over.”

Dimmitt agreed.

“The county can’t insert itself into something like this,” said Dimmitt.

When Ulicny wasn’t satisfied, Reed said the board could do one thing.

“Here’s what we can do, we’ll add it to our road tour next week and take a look at the property,” said Reed. “If it can be considered a nuisance, we can take some action.”

• Agreed to arrange a public hearing to sell a small piece of county-owned property at Brookville Road and Gear Avenue.

• Reviewed a written security plan for the courthouse compiled by Matt Murphy, a trained ALICE (Alert Lockdown Inform Counter and Evacuate) instructor with the South Iowa Area Crime Commission, requested by the supervisors. Murphy will be invited to attend a future board meeting to discuss the plan.

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