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Nepotism policy calls for disclosure

July 1 was deadline for policy to be adopted

July 04, 2012
Needing to do so by July 1 in order to be compliant with the state's new nepotism law, the Crawford County Board of Commissioners Thursday morning approved a resolution that allows for the continued employment of family members but only with public disclosure.

In approving the law earlier this year, the state legislature aimed to restrict the hiring and promotion of relatives by local officials by not allowing direct supervision of a family member. However, the law included provision for local governments to allow exceptions as long as the employment was publicly disclosed.

The state law defines a relative as a spouse, parent or stepparent, a child or stepchild, a brother, sister, stepbrother or stepsister, a niece or nephew, aunt or uncle, daughter-in-law or son-in-law, adopted child and a half brother or sister.

"This policy does not apply to an employee employed at the county as of July 1, 2012, unless there is a break in employment," county attorney John E. Colin told the commissioners.

Instead, he explained, without the commissioners allowing the public disclosure provision, it would prevent officeholders from directly supervising a family member. That means that if an employee's relative was elected to the office where the employee worked, the employee would either have to be transferred or terminated, he said.

District 2 Commissioner Randy Gilmore and Jim Schultz, president of the board, both said it wouldn't be fair for a good employee to lose their job because a relative was elected. The commissioners also worried that having such a policy would prevent a qualified person from running for office.

Relatives still can work together without public disclosure as long as one is not in a direct supervisory position.

The state law also allowed the commissioners to decide if the sheriff's wife can serve as the jail matron and if a deputy coroner can be a relative of the coroner. In both cases, the commissioners said they could.

The state law also prohibits elected officials — the commissioners and county council in this case — from approving contracts with relatives unless disclosed.

The penalty for local governments that did not enact the nepotism law by July 1 is the Department of Local Government Finance may not approve their budgets.

"So, it's a pretty heavy hammer out there that exists with regard to that," Colin said.

The commissioners voted 3-0 first to approve the resolution with the provisions and then to adopt an ordinance to amend the county personnel policy to reflect the changes.

In other business, the commissioners:

•Agreed, at the request of Don DuBois, the county's economic development director, to meet in joint session with the county council to listen to a presentation regarding a potential project at the county's industrial park north of Leavenworth.

The meeting will be Tuesday, July 10, at 7:45 p.m. at the Crawford County Judicial Complex in English. The council will have its regular monthly meeting at 7.

•Voted 3-0 to allow Schultz to sign a letter responding to the Indiana Historic Landmarks Association, which made a request to the project engineer that Bridge No. 80, the curved bridge near Milltown, be rehabilitated instead of replaced.

The commissioners said rehabilitating the bridge would be more costly than replacing it.

Brent Roberts of Butler, Fairman & Seufert Civil Engineers said the replacement project, which is to be paid for with state dollars with a 20-percent match from the county, already has received approval from the state historic preservation director.

IHLA also requested that, if the bridge wasn't rehabilitated, the county make every effort to recreate its character and keep the same road alignment with the new structure. Roberts indicated that will be attempted in the design.

•Voted 3-0 to use $93,000 out of the Orange County riverboat wagering fund to pay the remaining mortgage on the probation department building and what the county owes the court for use of the building, as those payments were suspended a few years ago during a budget crisis.

Paying off the loan early will save about $10,000 in interest and free up about $16,000 in the general fund.

The county council already has approved the use of the Orange County riverboat wagering fund monies.

•Were addressed by Edna Rice, who lives along Coonhunters Road north of Alton and expressed concern that the county plans to construct a rock storage building close to her house. Besides the noise and lights, the trucks going back and forth on the road would be a danger for residents, including many children, she said.

Schultz told Rice he would have liked a different location but none was available. However, he said the commissioners will take her concerns under consideration.

•Voted 3-0 to reappoint Donna Smith to the Crawford County Public Library Board of Trustees.

•Approved, 3-0, Janice Brown and Curtis Benham to the board for the English Fire District. Benham was re-appointed, and Brown will complete the term of her late husband, Carson Brown.

•Announced that their next regular meeting will be Thursday, July 26, at the judicial complex. The public meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. and will follow a closed executive session at 8:30.

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