Tuesday, Aug. 23


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Prevailing Wage Act raises questions

[AUG. 23, 2005]  Year after year governing agencies across the state pass resolutions to adhere to a standard known as the Prevailing Wage Act with little or no question. Basically it is understood that they agree to pay nonunion workers the going wage for the type of work being performed. The primary motivator the municipalities, counties, schools and agencies have in doing so is that they must do it to continue receiving state or federal grant funds.

In July the Logan County Board postponed passing the annual resolution when board members Dick Logan and John Stewart questioned if it really had to be passed. They would like to assess if this is really what is best for our county.

Stewart, who is new on the buildings and grounds committee, would like to do some comparisons on the cost difference of paying less than prevailing and what grant funds come in. Often downstate wages are far less than in more affluent communities such as you find around big cities like Chicago. "But is it really worthwhile for us?" he questioned.

The board agreed to hold off until a list of those wages was available for all board members to review and consider the contract work that is done in the departments that they oversee.

They also want know what would happen it they don't pass it. It was determined to seek an interpretation and the application of the act from Logan County State's Attorney Tim Huyett.

Neither the wage lists nor the opinion of the state's attorney was available for the August meeting. The matter was tabled for further discussion on Sept. 15 and a decision at the Sept. 20 board meeting.

* * *

The county continues to be frustrated by the new computer system. The clerk and treasurer's offices were still having the most difficulties remaining at the start of August. County clerk Sally Litterly said that they cleared up the biggest problems in her office on about the 10th, but there are still problems that need to be resolved in the treasurer's office, headed by Mary Ellen Bruns.

The company supporting the computer system and new Microsoft software program, Techtura, has begun charging for phone support, and it is quite costly at $75 per call. They made a recommendation that the county begin the $8,800 "Red Carpet" support contract. They said they show a $9,000 balance that can be applied to cover that cost.

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Litterly said, "We need to be demanding right now and tell them to come in here and fix this. Mary Ellen has been struggling with this for eight months and it isn't working yet. I've seen Mary Ellen work for 30 years and she's done a wonderful job. She should not have to struggle."

There is big trouble coming in that office with the end-of-year W-2s and when the audit comes, Litterly added.

At her recommendation and a suggestion by Mark Hilliard, the finance committee agreed to contact Techtura and tell them we accept for the Red Carpet plan but that it be at no cost until everything is made right with the system first.

Dick Logan added that a letter of dissatisfaction should also be drafted by the state's attorney to send with it.

Department reports remain difficult to interpret with the new system.

* * *

The county has formed a safety committee that will review all the county departments. They will look for ways to keep county workers healthier and safer. Chairman Bob Farmer appointed the following people to serve on the committee: Gloria Luster, Dennis Reeves, Mark Hilliard, Kim Escobedo, Bret Aukamp, Dan Fulscher, John Stewart and himself.

* * *

Contract negotiations begin with Logan County Health Department American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees in September.

[Jan Youngquist]

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