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Reluctant commissioners OK back pay for dispatcher


December 03, 2008
The Crawford County Board of Commissioners reluctantly agreed to pay a county dispatcher wages she said she should have received for the past year.

Beth Jones said it was unfair that she was making $9.61 per hour while other full-time dispatchers were earning $10.53 and she was willing to file a claim with the proper authorities, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

"But I'm coming to you for you guys to either settle something with me or I settle them with you all," she told the three commissioners.

District 3 Commissioner Jim Schultz asked, "I guess my question is what are you asking for, Beth?"

She answered that she would like to be paid the 92-cent difference between the hourly rates for the 2,550-1/2 hours she worked and to remain at the full-time pay rate. The amount of back pay would be $2,346.60.

Jones also said she wasn't receiving a portion of the shared supervisor's pay she should be from when Crawford County Emergency Management Agency Director Kent Barrow oversaw Central Dispatch and she helped him. Auditor Peggy Bullington said Jones was receiving an agreed upon amount per paycheck and would continue doing so through the end of 2008. Jones, however, again said she wasn't, and Bullington asked her to come to the Auditor's Office to look at payroll records.

Regarding the extra 92 cents per hour, Larry Bye, president of the board, told Jones she agreed to work for her current pay when she was hired. Jones answered that she was demoted and it wasn't fair that a new Dispatch director was hired in at the higher amount.

Schultz asked the new director, Richard White, for his recommendation.

"I do believe the job she does, she should get the same pay as regular dispatchers get," he replied.

Schultz said that based on the information given and White's recommendation, he has no problem in increasing her pay to that of the other full-time dispatchers and making up the 92-cent difference for the 2,550-1/2 hours worked, subject to the county council's approval of the funds. In making the motion, he said the county needs documentation of the hours Jones worked and she would have to sign an agreement drawn up by County Attorney John E. Colin stating she would drop her claims against the county.

Bye seconded Schultz's motion, but with hesitation.

"I guess I'll second it, but I don't really like it," he said.

District 2 Commissioner Randy Gilmore cast the third yes vote, but said his thoughts are the same as those of Bye.

In another matter, the commissioners voted to hire Reggie Timberlake to survey the piece of land the county is leasing from Marengo LLC on top of Marengo Warehouse and Distribution Center where a county tower is located. The legal description is needed so the county can get the mortgage company holding the deed to the property to OK the county keeping the tower in case of foreclosure. Timberlake is to be paid by the Crawford County Redevelopment Commission.

The commissioners also announced that Colin got Verizon, which wants to lease space on the tower for its cellular phone equipment, to change the proposed lease, which originally called for the county to provide liability indemnification if Verizon is sued, to remove that requirement. Colin also is working with Marengo LLC to have it share in environmental indemnification required by Verizon.

The motion to hire Timberlake also calls for Colin to move forward with an agreement with Verizon and Marengo LLC and, if successful, permit Bye to sign it.

In other matters, the commissioners:

•Agreed to seek several options to try to get employee insurance costs down for the upcoming. The county council budgeted for a 15-percent rate increase, but Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the county's current carrier, issued a 31-percent increase.

•Announced that CLR received the $760,000 contract to rehabilitate County Bridge No. 45 at Alton. Schultz, who represents the area, said the commissioners still need to select an inspection firm.

•Voted 3-0 to allow Don DuBois, the county's economic development director, to write a letter of intent to apply for a Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Agency. The letter, due by Dec. 20, requires Bye's signature as president of the board.

DuBois said a total of $45 million is available for such uses as purchasing and rehabilitating residential properties to sell or rent; demolishing blighted structures; and redeveloping demolished or vacant properties, among other things.

He added that no local matching funds are required for the grant.

•Authorized using $20,500 from the Orange County Wagering Fund to purchase 10 headsets for new consoles in Central Dispatch and to pay various bills. The county council already approved using money from the Orange County fund, which requires authorization from both bodies.

•Received an update from Angela Crecelius, whom the commissioners reappointed as one of their representatives to the Hoosier Uplands Board.

Crecelius, who has been on the board since 1997, said the agency offers several services in the county, including home health care, aging services and housing, having opened Springtown Apartments at Marengo earlier this year. The agency also owns a medical clinic building at English, she said.

"One of the things the board members from Crawford County are proud of is we got that housing," she said, referring to the apartments, which already are at 100-percent occupancy.

•Announced they will meet with officials from the four volunteer fire departments in the county, Emergency Medical Services, Central Dispatch and the county sheriff on Monday, Dec. 8, at 4 p.m. at the Marengo Fire Station to discuss issues that have arisen regarding the various groups.

•Introduced an updated Food Establishment Ordinance. A copy is on file at the Auditor's Office, and the commissioners are expected to vote on it at their next regular meeting.

•Voted 3-0 to pay $150 to have a Manitron employee visit the Crawford County Judicial Complex to determine the cost of linking the offices of the assessor, auditor and treasurer on one server.

•Reappointed Gilmore as their representative to the Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission Board.

•Amended the county personnel policy to allow several employees who were unable to take vacation time because of staff cuts to be paid for those hours. The county council already approved the funding.

•Appointed Ray Stroud and Phyllis Goldman to the Crawford County Board of Health.

•Approved the SRS Act regarding government payment from timber sales on National Forest property in the county.

•Voted to close the courthouse at noon on Tuesday, Dec. 23, for the county employee Christmas dinner.

•Approved an agreement between the county and Jim Montgomery, who served as county prosecutor from 2003 to 2007, that calls for him to pay $1,530.75 for Indiana Code books missing from the office.

•Hired Richard Sharp, a resident of the county with 30 years of platting experience, as a contract employee to do the county's platting. The county council already approved $3,000 for the remainder of 2008 so he can work 40 hours per week at $15 per hour, with no benefits.

Funding for 2009 is contingent on the recommendation of the commissioners.

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