Reclassification of employees in the auditor's office led to a discussion of the Crow Wing County administrator's role and philosophical differences in hiring.
Tuesday the Crow Wing County Board approved reclassifications from technical clerks to senior technical clerks for Elaine Cheney, Leta Hartman, Kay Greenwalt and Roxann Uhde. The board also approved a reclassification for Therese Norwood from administrative secretary to senior administrative secretary.
County Administrator Peter Herlofsky Jr. said he was concerned because other departments were also requesting reclassifications, which allows the county to recognize changes in job duties, and he had turned some down. Herlofsky said he needed board direction on how to deal with such requests and whether they should come directly to the board.
"I'm trying to figure out what role I'm playing when these decisions come before you," Herlofsky said, particularly when dealing with other elected officials.
Commissioner Terry Sluss said in the past the requests went through the personnel committee and County Auditor Roy Luukkonen was previously asked to go through the budget process for his request.
Sluss said reclassifications legitimately deal with increased skill training and increased responsibility in jobs and should not be considered as a merit pay raise.
Some departments hire at entry levels and then increase salaries after training, and employees are reclassified after they gain experience and expertise.
Herlofsky said from a human resources perspective he is not sure he agrees with that philosophy. He said advertising for a job at a higher rate of pay may gain an employee with the needed job skills up front vs. a lower entry level pay offering, then adding training for the employee and using the reclassification to bump the pay levels up.
Sluss said training allows the county to, in effect, "grow our own" by working with employees and keeping those after probation periods who meet expectations.
Herlofsky said starting with someone who is qualified may be more of an investment.
Commissioner Dewey Tautges said both Sluss and Herlofsky had valid arguments.
Board Chairman Ed Larsen said he was concerned with a consistent policy. "The procedure should be the same."
Herlofsky asked the board whether his role was to make a recommendation as reclassifications come forward. Larsen said he wanted someone to evaluate requests.
Commissioners agreed the process should go through the personnel committee and come before the board with recommendations.
Luukkonen also reported Ron Larson, finance coordinator, is retiring in December. Luukkonen requested and was granted authorization to reorganize his office and fill positions within the budget vs. filling the finance coordinator's vacancy.
In other employee relations, the board approved an agreement for an employee contract for 2001-2003 with the Law Enforcement Labor Services group, which includes deputies, jailers and dispatchers.
Herlofsky said the contract amounts to a 3 percent raise for employees at the top of their step for wages, about 50 percent of employees. Other employees will receive the 3 percent raise and another 4 percent for step increases.
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