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Supervisors Receive Proposal, Funding Requests In Meeting

By Staff | Oct 26, 2010

Noting it seemed a little early in the season, Palo Alto County Supervisors began receiving budget requests for funding for the next fiscal year during their weekly session on Oct. 19. The board also received a labor negotiations proposal from the Palo Alto County Sheriffs’ Deputies Employee Association in accordance with the collective bargaining sections of the Iowa Code.

Deputy John King and attorney Don Hemphill, representing the Deputies Employee group, appeared to present the board with their initial proposal for salaries and benefits for the next fiscal year. While the group is not a formal union entity, they fall under the provisions of Iowa Code Chapter 20.

“This organization represents the sheriff’s deputies, as well as dispatch operators, jailers and the office manager of the Sheriff’s Office,” Hemphill explained to the supervisors. “Their proposal addresses some items that are perhaps not as well-defined as they should be.”

The proposal asks that sick leave be extended to an employee to attend to a sick child our spouse, much the same policy as is followed by courthouse employees. It was also proposed that a provision for leave without pay be clarified, even if there is vacation or sick leave available.

Vacation time was proposed to be changed to three weeks after seven years of employment, rather than the current nine years, and four weeks be granted after 15 years, rather than the current 19 years. Also requested was the accrual of vacation time, or the granting of compensatory time for unused vacation time.

The association proposed that employees have the option to receive compensatory time off in lieu of holiday pay, and that employees be granted two personal leave days per calendar year. A clarification on maximum limits of compensatory time was also requested.

A request was also made for some type of longevity compensation, $500 annually be granted annually to employees who had served 15 years, with an additional $500 for employees serving 20 years.

Finally, the association asked that a step salary schedule be adopted, based on a proposal offered by the sheriff, which would rely on years of experience, standards of performance and education. The annual step would be a one percent increase, based on evaluations by the sheriff. Additionally, the association asked that placements of personnel on the salary schedule would result in increases of one percent for deputies, dispatchers and part-time jailers, while full-time jailers would receive a 2.7 percent increase and a 3.5 percent increase for the office manager.

“The compensation levels for these individuals fall short of neighboring counties,” Hemphill noted.

“Would this be an annual contract or a multi-year?” asked Supervisor Ed Noonan.

“A multi-year agreement is certainly on the table,” Hemphill replied.

“I don’t agree with steps,” observed Board Chair Jerry Hofstad. “I think everyone should be considered every year.”

“Actually, Jerry, the steps would act as a motivation for performance,” King replied.

Under the Code of Iowa, the Supervisors must make their counter proposal to the Association in two weeks. However, as that date is that same as the general election on Nov. 2, the board agreed they would develop a counter proposal for the group by the Oct. 26 board meeting.

In other business, the board met with Upper Des Moines Opportunity Palo Alto County Outreach Director Cinda Joynt and UDMO Executive Director Ron Ludwig. Joynt briefed the board on the activities and services of Upper Des Moines, and noted that the organization brought $32.38 into Palo Alto County for every $1 received during the past year, and that services were extended to 1,120 individuals and 494 households in the past year.

“We are asking you once again for support in the amount of $18,000 for Fiscal Year 2010,” Joynt said. “We are so very grateful for your support over the years.”

The board took the request under advisement for the start of the budgeting process.

Members of the Palo Alto County Economic Development Corporation also appeared before the board to provide a quarterly update on their activities. President Kris Ausborn thanked the board for their strong support in the previous year, and respectfully requested the sum of $70,000 funding for the group for the upcoming fiscal year.

PACEDC Executive Director Maureen Elbert noted that the group is now concentrating on responding to the efforts of its advertising campaign, and has completed the most current business survey of the county.

“Even though Palo Alto was hit hard by the closing of Skyjack, overall, the county has survived the economic downturn quite well,” Elbert said. “The business surveys show that the county is very high on job availability actually higher than Clay County. We have truly fared well during these times.”