Monday, March 24, 2014
 
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Logan County Board adopts revised policies and procedures

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[March 24, 2014]  Last year, under the directive of the Logan County Board chairman, Bob Farmer, the legislative committee began work to update and revise the board's policies and procedures. The document specific to the operation of the Logan County Board had not been changed since 1998.

In April 2013 the board passed the revised document, subject to the input and approval of the Logan County state's attorney.

At that time the board understood that it could be a period of time before the new state's attorney, Jonathan Wright, could address the matter. Wright was deeply involved in preparing for a major criminal trial.

Jan Schumacher, legislative committee chair, announced last month that the committee had met with Wright in January and that he, County Clerk and Recorder Sally Litterly-Turner, and finance chairman Chuck Ruben had offered a few recommendations for revision, which the committee approved.

Wright made a few recommendations.

The first was on language in the preamble. The preamble addresses board member behavior, calling each to a high standard of ethical behavior in duties, responsibilities and judgment.

Wright recommended stronger language on board members' responsibility to protect confidential information. This included removing "Respect the confidentiality of privileged information," and replacing it to read, "Refrain from disclosing privileged information."

Another change to be made is to distinguish between action taken on a personal account and as a county board member. Wright recommended a replacement:

Wording removed:

Avoid participation in any action which would result in a conflict of personal interest with County responsibility. Refrain from obtaining improper personal benefit with regard to public funds, equipment, property, or the services of employees. Refrain from accepting gifts, favors or promises of future benefit, which could tend to impair independence of judgment or action as a Board member.

New wording:

Refrain from using their title or position in any manner not related to their duties as a county board member. Shall comply with the Logan County Ethics Ordinance.

Under the topic "Meeting, deliberations, vote," Wright recommended another change.

Wording removed:

Before the County Board enters into a written legal contract with a public or private entity, it should consider whether the State's Attorney's office should be provided an opportunity to review the contract before it is voted on by the full Board.

New wording:

Before the County Board enters into a written legal contract with a public or private entity, it shall send the contract to the State's Attorney's office for review unless the board determines it is not necessary to do so.

Previous to the last election, the board voted to expand the opportunity for the chairman and vice chairman positions to serve two consecutive terms.

The board votes for three positions  chairman, vice chairman and parliamentarian  at a special organizational meeting right after the swearing-in of newly elected board members. The votes for chairman and vice chairman have proven challenging the last few times, with repeated ties.

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Litterly, who facilitates the board organization every two years, suggested adding a caucus opportunity to aid in that process if a tie vote would occur for either the chairman or vice chairman positions.

That section now reads:

New wording:

The Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Board shall be elected at the first meeting of the Board following a general election where board members are elected. The term for Chairman and Vice-Chairman shall be two years. The Chairman and Vice-Chairman cannot serve more than two consecutive terms for their respective offices. If a vacancy occurs in the office of Chairman or Vice Chairman, the remaining members of the Board shall elect one of their number to serve for the balance of the unexpired term. If there is a tie vote, the meeting will be briefly recessed to allow the members to caucus. When the meeting resumes, a second vote will be taken. If that vote is a tie, the matter will be decided by the flip of a coin done by another countywide elected official. The candidate whose last name is first in alphabetical order calls whether the flip will be heads or tails. If the coin lands with the called side up, that individual wins the toss, and hence the position. If that side is down, the other individual wins.

Ruben explained a change concerning bidding and public works contracts for county projects. On Page 7 of the document, language has been removed and replaced with: "A reasonable attempt will be made to notify local vendors about bids being let." He explained that this allows for an instance "if someone started a company last week and you didn't notify them." He added, "That's our goal, is to do it locally if at all possible."

Since it had been nearly a year since the board looked at the new document, Schumacher reminded the board that one of the changes affects the names of the full board meetings.

The board's first meeting of the month will change from "board of whole" to "workshop." This meeting takes place on a Thursday. The meeting the following Tuesday, which has been called the "adjourned" session, will be called the "regular board" meeting.

The main body of the document was unanimously approved 11-0 at the last-ever "adjourned" session in February.

The newest document separated out a list of committees that includes the duties and function of the various committees. These are now found in an appendix. Several changes for clarification were completed for this month. Schumacher explained those revisions at the board's March working session. With that, the document is complete.

You can find copies of the documents below, showing changes, the completed version, the committee assignments appendix and the code of ethics.

[By JAN YOUNGQUIST]

Board documents  (PDFs)

Past related article

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