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October 20, 2019

9/14/2019 7:30:00 AM
Carlson-Dettmann resolution to go to full county board
Kayla Houp
Of the Lakeland Times

The Oneida County administration and labor relations and employee services committees this week approved a motion to forward the Carlson-Dettmann reclassification implementation resolution to the full county board.

"This was approved by labor relations last week with an implementation date in September," labor relations and employee services chair Ted Cushing explained. "That's what we agreed to."

Cushing also serves on the administration committee.

"The implementation, if the county board passes this on Tuesday (Sept. 17), the increases would be effective Sept. 21," administration committee chair Dave Hintz said. "Which I believe is the start of a pay period."

"We asked everybody to hold off on these particular items when we were trying to figure out where we were gonna be from a pay standpoint, from a money standpoint, and these were all reclasses recommended by Carlson based on increased duties in each one of these areas," Cushing explained.

"I believe the department heads had the opportunity to come forward and identify any jobs that had additional responsibilities since the last time," finance director Darcy Smith added. "And there were also some that we had done reclasses since Carlson-Dettmann bills were looked at to see if they were properly reclassed."

Smith reviewed a list of positions Carlson-Dettmann determined have increased responsibilities and education requirements and thus would be eligible for a grade level increase.

Carlson Dettmann is a management consulting firm with expertise in compensation strategies, employee relations, and related business services, according to its website.

The firm recently conducted a wage study showing Oneida County is about $800,000 behind the market in terms of salaries.

This has led to an effort to reclassify positions to a more appropriate wage level.

'The answer was no'

Committee member Robb Jensen had some concerns regarding the implementation of the Carlson-Dettmann reclassification resolution.

One concern was the proposal to raise the Aging and Disability Resource Center director position to Grade Level N. Jensen said it was his understanding that when the question of whether the new duties assigned to the ADRC position would require a pay increase was initially brought up "the answer was no."

"I'm quite sure of that. The answer was no," Jensen said. "So now, here we are, increasing it."

He also asked how more assigned duties would impact comp time and comp time payouts.

"I think there's a relationship there that I don't know, and I have a hard time supporting this when we move forward with these things and then when you look at the numbers that I'm looking at," Jensen said.

He went on to explain that he was confused about the relationship between hours and productivity and changes in the resolution that would affect the county financially.

"I can address one of your questions, I think, about comp time," Hintz said. "These positions no longer do the comp time, kind of one-for-one for these positions."

Smith clarified the list of affected positions was split into two categories, those on the exempt wage schedule and those on the non-exempt schedule.

According to Smith, those on the exempt list were all salaried and wouldn't be associated with comp time, whereas those on the non-exempt list would.

There were six positions on the non-exempt schedule and 11 on the exempt wage schedule.

Smith also clarified the two ADRC positions on the exempt wage schedule are tax levy, but that the county had committed to have the ADRC grant funding pay for the difference.

Jensen stated that wasn't his point, and that his point was the board had initially stated there wasn't a reclassification or pay increase necessary for the ADRC positions.

"We have a tendency to forget what we agreed to," he noted

Jensen said he thought it would've been more appropriate to say they didn't need to reclassify at the moment, but that they "cannot guarantee that we won't be coming back asking for this."

"That's the way I would've worded it, but it wasn't worded that way," Jensen said.

Jensen said if the cost of the implementation was $50,000, they were looking at coming up with $850,000.

"I think this is too early. I think I want to look at the whole funding opportunities from the reclassification impact, and to approve this, it's too early. I want to see the whole picture," Jensen said.

Mott said if they believed what Carlson-Dettmann said about the county being $800,000 behind, and now were saying this was appropriate, "one should follow the other that we would accept what they say."

Cutting programs?

One of Jensen's other concerns involved obtaining the combined $850,000, and that, if the board was unable to obtain the combined $850,000 cost, then programs would have to be cut to accommodate the cost.

"I think the point of this is they studied a number of positions and found some of them to be underclassified," Hintz said.

"These people are already taking on those responsibilities in their current position and the position basically changed where it's not on this level anymore, it should've been here for what they're already doing now," information technology services director Jason Rhodes said.

Human resources director Lisa Charbarneau reiterated Rhodes' point.

"Those reclassifications got moved forward to Carlson-Dettmann because we were gonna do the market analysis," Charbarneau said. "The labor relations committee decided that they wanted Carlson-Dettmann to look at the reclassification requests."

According to Charbarneau, the figures presented to the committee did include those requests.

"To implement at this time, moving forward, is very small because we move people to the new grade level at the next highest step that gives them an increase," Charbarneau said. "And that is on Darcy's fiscal report, she did a great job showing you what those amounts are. It's very small for the rest of this calendar year."

Though it would be an ongoing cost, Charbarneau said Smith included the worst case scenario in her fiscal report should those individuals finish out their careers at the new grade levels.

"They truly were looked at for the job duties and responsibilities that they do, and that's what the reclassification requests are about. They have nothing to do with the market study, and if they're paid correctly or underpaid," Charbarneau said. "This is based totally on duties and responsibilities of the job."

"My point is, this is part of the $800,000. The funding opportunities committee may have recommended this implementation of the $800,000. I don't recall that. I see this as part of that whole thing, and I see this coming forward in November rather than now," Jensen said.

"I understand the basis for it, but I'd rather see this come as part of the budgeting process and in funding opportunities," Jensen said.

Cushing said even if the conversation about the $800,000 didn't happen, the underlying issue would still have to be addressed.

"I made a comment when we first - and you can take it for what it's worth - I said, 'I hope this funding opportunity thing doesn't become our life's work.' Way back when, I wanna say six months ago. And that's what it's become," Cushing said. "We wanna hold everything off until we see this, hold everything off until we see that. These people were told to sit on their hands, you're gonna get this done, and now, instead of making it retroactive to April, we're saying, 'No, next pay period in September.'"

Moving it forward

Committee member Billy Fried spoke in favor of the reclassifications being implemented, but also agreed with Jensen's point.

"I really think it may be a good discussion to send this resolution to the county board and let the county board decide," Fried said, making a motion to forward the resolution to the county board for consideration next week.

Jensen said he saw it as an impact on the 2020 budget, and that if they approved it now, they'd be saying they already made an adjustment on the 2020 budget that's "going to go on forever."

Without having a discussion of other wants, Jensen said the committee would come up with some suggestions for capital improvements that would have to go back into the operating budget on an annual basis.

Jensen said he wanted to have both discussions "at the same time."

"Robb, I totally agree with you, but I think this is a good discussion for the county board floor because it'll give us, as a committee, good direction going to the budget," Fried said.

"So this is what could happen at the next meeting: I'm going to bring forward a resolution that we no longer fund hardware through the IT department and the $50,000 is part of the IT budget, let's make a decision on that in September. I'm going to come forward with a resolution, see we all could rush to a resolution to have discussion on the 2020 budget now," Jensen said.

"Hey, I'm on your side about not implementing now, but I feel it's important enough for the people involved that the 21 supervisors should make the decision at this point," Fried said.

"To me, the other 16 county board members rely on us to take a look at what the needs are in the 2020 budget, and we ultimately make some valued decisions," Jensen said, stating the board could always make a motion to put something back in at the November meeting.

"Why would we want to have that discussion on the 2020 budget at the September meeting? Because that's what it's gonna be," he said.

Fried said they needed some direction as the county put its budget together.

"I'm not saying these people don't deserve it. I've got to trust Carlson-Dettmann," Jensen said.

The motion passed 3-2.

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