County to change how employees are hired and fired

Commissioner Ben Kafferlin has announced reforms to how the county hires and fires county employees.

“The county has gotten a little off track through small changes over a long period of time,” Kafferlin said. “I don’t think anything egregious has resulted — I am simply advocating we follow the County Code a little bit closer.

At the heart of the issue is the role of the Salary Board.

Kafferlin said the code’s outlines their role “to set the wages and salaries of employees that are not covered under a collective bargaining unit.”

While the commissioners negotiate those contracts, Kafferlin said that “the nonunion employees, however, must have salaries set in Salary Board, which consists of the three commissioners and the treasurer and, when relevant, the elected official overseeing the position in question.”

He went on to outline several ways that county practice differs from the established County Code.

“First, the (Salary) Board seems to act as if the board is hiring employees…. The board has no such authority. Under section 1620, the elected officials over a given department hire and fire at will. All the Salary Board can do is set the salary of the position, if nonunion, to there is really no reason to have frequent meetings as most hires are under union contract as an existing position.”

The Salary Board currently meets twice a month.

“Next, the Code makes clear that if an elected official is requesting a new position or trying to set a salary for a nonunion position, they have a vote on the board for their agenda item and that one only.

“Finally, positions that are filled or vacated should be noted in the Commissioners minutes. Therefore I recommend the Human Resources department furnish the commissioners at every commissioners meeting with a list of all hires, promotions and vacated positions in order to be ratified into the minutes of the meeting. For the sake of clarity, such action is not the commissioners approving the employ of such persons, it is simply documenting and disclosing publicly the employment of public servants.

Kafferlin asserted that these proposals would “save us all time, affirm the Section 1620 employer rights of elected officials while simultaneously ensuring better consistency and transparency” and added that he “would like to thank the Warren Times Observer for continuing a constructive dialogue about how Warren County can more closely comply with the county code as well as be increasingly transparent with its constituents.”

The first personnel report under this new procedure was approved at Wednesday’s commissioners meeting.

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