To start the meeting, Terry Carlton introduced a topic he has been
working on for three years: the purchase of a new phone system for
the county buildings.
The aging telephone system has been breaking
down with greater frequency and taking longer periods of time to
fix. Just a week ago, the phones in the courthouses were down for
the better part of a day, hampering important communications to
offices there. That breakdown was not the first this year, making
the matter more pressing.
Carlton has been working with Janice Elliott from Frontier on
bringing in a new system.
Elliott was present and explained some of the features of the
Mitel system. She said it would reduce the need for the number of
lines that are currently used, and it has numerous added features
over what is in use, such as texting and instant messaging. It will
transfer calls from the landline phone to a cellphone, and it offers
more privacy features. There is also an emergency call button,
automated attendant and after-hours message system.
At the last minute there was a decision not to incorporate the
safety complex in the new system. Emergency Management Agency
director Dan Fulscher said it would best for now that they stay with
copper analog. Due to compatibility issues of industry-specific
communications systems, the complex -- which includes the Logan
County Sheriff's Department, the Lincoln Police Department, the city
and county jail -- would still need to change to a next-generation
system in four to seven years.
Not only is the need becoming more urgent, but the timing is
right for the price. Carlton explained that when the county first
looked at this system, it was $53,000, with $4,000 maintenance on a
five-year plan. Now it is $46,000 to outright purchase, or $1,200
per month for a lease that would include maintenance for 60 months
with $1 buyout.
The current proposed price would be adjusted in removing the
The system would replace phones in the Logan County Courthouse,
highway department, airport and John Logan Building.
Telephone service costs are also expected to drop due to features
that reduce the number of lines that are needed and other technology
uses that would be available.
Finance chairman Chuck Ruben suggested that purchasing the system
would be the best use of funds, and the county could do it. In a
straw vote, the board appeared to be in full agreement, and this
would pass on Tuesday.
Jean Anderson, of Regional Office of Education 38, was present to
explain to board members the needs of her office for this year's
budget. The regional office serves Mason and Menard counties as
well, but Logan is the largest of the three countiesí shared
resources, and as such pays in a higher share. She said salaries and
benefits for herself and three employees are the bulk of her budget,
and she pointed out that it isn't much more than when she started in
Ruben recommended a 1.5 percent increase over last year's budget
to aid in raises, for a total of $61,600 to be paid to the regional
On the subject of filling a couple of new positions, once again
the board labored long and hard, but to no votable end.
Discussions opened when Ruben made a motion to set $31,000 for
the salary of a project compliance and oversight management officer,
or PCOM, $10,000 for the part-time county secretary work and $65,000
for the positions that Will D'Andrea would fill -- which includes
his current work as zoning officer, GIS director, regional planning
director and enterprise zone coordinator. To that would be added
part-time county manager for various assigned duties and office
assistant to the county secretary.
Many amendments were proposed to the original motion, and after
more than an hour of discussion, it appeared that more work would be
needed before many of the board members would feel comfortable
making a decision. Ruben offered to withdraw his original motion if
all others who made amendments would do the same; and it was done.
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In summary, the board members seem to agree that the individuals
being considered have demonstrated themselves as good employees, are
highly qualified and that they would be good for the work being
One point became a cornerstone in discussions -- to create job
descriptions for the work to be done. Board members expressed
concern to protect the individuals from having too much thrust on
them. It was also recognized that it would be most valuable to
choose where the county's needs should be met first, and, in regard
to the PCOM position, how much time should be allocated, though it
Jan Schumacher noted: "The first year would require more time to
get the work established, but it seems poor use of taxpayer money to
spend more than what is needed while getting a $50,000 grant."
Carlton also observed that once a position like the PCOM is made
full time, it is difficult to go back and make it part time.
Salary increases were also an issue from several perspectives:
compared with what other county employees would be getting,
comparing the two positions being considered and the work each
individual would be doing with their new duties; and the unequal
increases among current salaries.
Andy Anderson observed that D'Andrea would be getting an 11.4
percent raise and the raise for Pam Meagher would be 5 percent.
"Pam's duties would increase drastically, giving her $31,000 and
all these other duties. That's totally unfair," Anderson said.
Kevin Bateman agreed, saying: "I would like to organize the
county needs and come up with job descriptions. And pay
appropriately. We're trying to rush these things so fast. We need to
look at what we need, not want."
Schumacher observed that D'Andrea could fill his role well, which
would include part-time county manager duties. "I think we need a
full-time county manager, and this is a first step in that
direction," she said.
The Executive/Economic Development Committee would discuss this
more on Monday. Due to timing for posting the agenda 48 hours in
advance and the adjourned session to take place the next day, on
Tuesday, whatever might be decided would not be voted on until
Turning the discussion to the budget for the next fiscal year,
Ruben held up a copy and shook it. He said Meagher had been
invaluable in her help in putting together the document packed with
columns of figures. It was a first for putting it together
themselves and was done to save money, which it did -- between
$5,000 and $6,000. He recommended a bonus for Meagher.
Continuing, Ruben recommended to raise salaries of nonunion,
full-time employees by 3 percent, except for the jury commissioner.
"We can't tell the officeholders what to pay their employees," he
said. "Our job is to provide the correct amount of money to do the
job. The money is put in a departmentís line item for payroll. What
money is not used from a departmentís payroll line item
automatically goes back to the general fund."
Schumacher agreed, clarifying that department heads need to be
allowed to manage and decide which employees get what kind of raise.
"The board is the policymaker," she said.
[By JAN YOUNGQUIST]
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