WALKER -- The Cass County Board debated Tuesday without reaching a decision on two employee pay issues for people who now will perform different duties.
For one, the pay difference is only about 20 cents an hour, said Administrator Robert Yochum. For the other the differential would mean more than $12,000 more per year.
The board Tuesday appointed Chief Deputy Recorder Katie Norby to succeed Recorder Connie Kaylor upon Kaylor's retirement.
The promotion would give Norby about a $12,000 per year pay increase, because the chief deputy is ranked at a Grade 19 on the county pay scale, while the recorder is a Grade 34.
Cass has a 10-step pay plan, giving employees an opportunity to move one step higher per year within each grade to recognize experience in their employment position.
Kaylor asked the board to place Norby above Step 1 when she moves to Grade 34 to recognize the fact she has experience in that department.
The board, looking at the automatic $12,000 annual increase if she is at Step 1, was reluctant to grant any additional above that. The commissioners asked Yochum to do a salary scale study before they will make their wage decision.
The other issue involves a request from Lynette Emery, who is performing many of the duties of a veterans service officer during the time Veterans Service Officer John Reuter is on a paid administrative leave.
Reuter was placed on suspension in February by board action, pending an investigation by Yochum and the county's personnel legal council to determine whether Reuter had violated county personnel rules or acted in any manner requiring disciplinary action.
As program assistant, Emery has been paid at Grade 17, Step 7, reflecting her experience. She has requested to be paid during Reuter's leave at Step 1 of the veterans service officer rank, Grade 26.
Yochum told the board this differential is only 20 cents per hour. He recommended the board approve the differential, partially because Emery is now traveling to satellite offices several times a week, besides working at the courthouse and handling more duties.
The county union contract states: "When an employee is temporarily transferred by written assignment of duties by the department head to a higher position classification for four hours or more, the employee shall receive the minimum compensation of the higher class or 3 percent above current salary, whichever is greater, for all hours worked in that classification."
Yochum told the board he had asked Emery to do additional work during her supervisor's suspension.
Commissioner Glenn Witham, who was not present at the last regular meeting when the board voted to keep veterans services satellite offices open during Reuter's absence, objected Tuesday to paying Emery at the higher class.
Because she is not a veteran and, therefore, cannot perform all the duties for that office, Witham said he believes the board would set an undesirable precedent by paying Emery for a job she cannot perform fully.
Other counties' veterans service officers and state officials are signing Cass County paperwork and answering any questions Emery might have in the absence of a fully qualified veterans service officer.
She cannot become qualified, Witham said, because she is not a veteran.
Commissioner Virgil Foster, who voted with the rest of the board at the last meeting to keep satellite offices open, said Tuesday he misunderstood the issue at the last meeting and had told Cass Lake veterans the satellite office there would be closed.
They agreed to come to Walker for services during this period, Foster said.
Tuesday, he sided with Witham in split votes that could not be broken, because the fifth commissioner, Jim Demgen, was absent.
Commissioner John Stranne said he believes it is unfair to ask an employee to do additional duties without additional compensation.
"If anyone deserves some service, it's the veterans," Stranne said, backing his earlier decision to keep satellite offices open.
Board action two weeks ago to continue staffing the satellite offices for one month to determine the extent they are used stands.
No decision was reached on how to handle Emery's pay, so she continues to be paid as program assistant.
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