By WILL BRUMLEVE
PAXTON — The Ford County Board’s finance committee voted 3-0 Thursday to recommend the full 12-member board approve the hiring of a Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School student to work part-time in both the treasurer’s office and supervisor of assessments office.
If approved by the full board, the student would be expected to start working for the county this June through the high school’s Inter-Related Cooperative Education (ICE) work program.
“We’re getting youth involved, so I think it’s a great program,” Treasurer Krisha Shoemaker said. “We’ll both have someone we can groom and mold.”
The student is primarily needed to help Supervisor of Assessments Kim Hooper with the county’s quadrennial reassessment process, especially since the county is down a multi-township assessor. Hooper said she plans to use the student worker to help measure homes, the data from which will be used to assign new assessed values to those structures.
The student would work no more than 130 hours per month at the minimum wage from June 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020.
Two committee members were absent Thursday: Gene May of rural Paxton and Chuck Aubry of Gibson City.
Also at Thursday’s committee meeting:
➜ County Board Chairman Bob Lindgren of rural Loda said contract negotiations with the Fraternal Order of Police Illini Lodge 17 — the labor union representing the sheriff’s office’s unionized employees — are expected to begin “sometime in the next few weeks.” Lindgren said he expects the union to use the state’s new minimum wage — which will rise each year incrementally until it reaches $15 in 2025 — as a “bargaining chip” for higher wages. Even though the unionized employees already make more than $15 per hour, “they want to get more than what the hamburger place would give them,” Lindgren said.
➜ The committee voted to recommend the full board approve the hiring of a full-time employee in the county clerk’s office. Following a closed session, the committee voted to set the employee’s starting wage at $11.25 per hour, pending approval of the full board.
➜ The committee voted to recommend the full board approve the hiring of a full-time employee in the circuit clerk’s office. The employee would fill one of two vacancies in the office.
➜ The committee voted to recommend the full board approve amending a previously approved resolution allowing the treasurer to hire a part-time employee. The resolution was amended to reflect the employee’s term of employment ending Nov. 30, the end of the 2019 fiscal year.
➜ Committee Chairman Chase McCall of Gibson City presented an updated proposal to create new job classifications and pay scales for the county’s 32 full-time and 24 part-time nonunionized employees based on their qualifications and experience. Under the proposal, each fall prior to the budget being finalized, every department head would do a performance evaluation on each employee and assign each of them a rating based on their past year of performance. In the event a department head fails to do what is required, the county board would provide no increase in salaries for that specific department in the following fiscal year’s budget. Last month, however, Aubry questioned how fair that would be to the employees, noting they should not be penalized by receiving no raise as a result of their department head’s “incompetence.” On Thursday, McCall said the board may reconsider that policy and “try to figure out a best practice for that particular item.” McCall said he was still waiting for some department heads — including the circuit judge, sheriff, state’s attorney and highway engineer — to provide job descriptions for their employees. He also requested that the supervisor of assessments provide an additional job description not yet provided for a deputy clerk.