Tuesday, December 13, 2011

cookin the books

<$BlogMetaData$>It is nice to be writing articles once again. I really missed it. My articles are written under “Doug Sez”. I would really like to label it “The truth hurts doesn’t it.” Let’s get it on.

I was casually reading the unofficial minutes of the county commissioners for the 29th of November on the Union County website the other day and everything was going along just fine until the last paragraph when “up jumps the snake.” Just before adjournment, the commissioners voted new pay raises for next year for the county employees. The county employees overall will receive a pay raise of 2.1%. (Here comes the good part) in addition to the 2.1% pay raise, some department heads will receive an additional raise in their salary. Additional

Increases were included for the following department heads: Auditor-$3,640; Treasurer-$1,300; Sheriff-$1,300; Emergency Manager- $5,200.

Now, I don’t call this a real and honest pay raise, I call it cookin the books. If we list the actual percentage of pay raise that these department heads got it paints a whole new picture. I won’t go into a lot of facts and figures on this, I’ll just give you the quick and dirty of what this actually is, and you make up your own mind just how big these pay raises are. The auditors base salary went from $41160 to $45,664, so she really got a pay raise of 9%. Sounds a bit different now doesn’t it. The sheriff went from $52,188 to $54,584 for a 9.5% raise, the treasurer went from $39,384 to $41,511 for 9% and the Emergency Manager went from $12096 to $17,550 for a whopping 68% pay raise. Granted, the Highway administrator and the Emergency manager are one in the same, but his paycheck is split according to what hat he happens to be wearing at the time. Up until now, the Emergency Managers job was what I would consider “additional duty”, because he didn’t really devote that much time to ‘disasters’ other than making sure the county conformed to FEMA’s standards and also hold training sessions for the volunteer EMT’s around the area. But suddenly, here come ‘da flood. And everything changes. The Emergency Manager’s salary went from $12,096 to $17,550. WHOO-HOO!

I called my district commissioner (milt Ustad) and asked him about these raises, and his response is somewhat surprising. He told me the raise for the auditor was because she opted out of the retirement system and this is money that would have normally been given to the state for her retirement but since she opted out they voted to give the money directly to her instead. (Are you kidding me here?) Now that is what I call a really good deal because just a year ago the auditor asked for the same thing because she had opted out of the system, but the commissioners voted no. I wonder what happened in the course of a year that changed their minds. Hum-m-m-m.

Anyway, the sheriff and the treasurer both got $1300. No big deal - except – what have they done to deserve this. If it is because of merit, then instead of the 2.1 percent they actually got 9%. Why beat around the bush.

Now here is the kicker. The Highway administrator wears 2 hats. He is the highway administrator and the county Emergency Manager. The emergency manager gets a $5,200 raise. It all goes to the Highway Administrator but to be given a $5,200 is a humongous raise (68%)any way you look at it.

I asked my district representative if this was kosher and he told me that Mr. Roggow put in a lot of hours down at the dunes because of the flood and he is not an hourly employee but salaried. I didn’t dispute that, but did he receive any additional monies or compensation for his work at the flood site. Mr. Ustad would not respond other than to say he doesn’t get overtime. I asked if he got comp time. Again he didn’t respond. I commented that I couldn’t believe someone could or would work many hours beyond the normal 40 hour week for almost 5 months and not receive compensation of some kind. I asked him if this was a reward for his work during the flood. He didn’t respond. Then I asked if Mr. Roggow’s assistant received overtime pay for filling in while doing his job and Ray’s job while Mr. Roggow was gone. He didn’t know.

Now then, there are 6 elected positions in the county besides the commissioners, so why didn’t the Union County State’s attorney and the Register of deeds get pay raises along with the other department heads? Is it because they both just happen to be Republicans? Naw that couldn’t be it. Could it be cronyism? Hum-m-m. It just so happens that the treasurer and the sheriff are Republican and got the $1,300 raises and the Auditor and Highway Superintendant are Democrats and got the big money. The chairman of the commissioners is a staunch Democrat and controls the purse strings regardless of what anyone else says. What he says goes, and don’t you forget it. Ask the commissioners why the disparity and Mr. Karpen will give probably give you the proverbial answer. “They are the commissioners and it is their prerogative as the county commission as to who gets what.” But, to quote Mr. Karpen, “it isn’t their job to micromanage each department.” So how did they arrive at these figures for the department head raises?

I think we need some new blood in that room.


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