Cape Girardeau County Commission holding off on recorder, auditor proposals

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Cape Girardeau County Commission won't yet formally discuss a response to proposals from the county's recorder and auditor to give promotions and raises to department workers by way of attrition, although the issue was agreed upon by the commission at its June 6 meeting to be revisited in two weeks.

Plans for a discussion were not on the commission's tentative agenda for today's meeting released last week. Presiding Commissioner Clint Tracy said the commission needed more time for discussions and the timeline for completion would come within a few weeks.

In the meantime, County Clerk Kara Clark Summers sent a letter to the commission June 10 regarding the proposals made by Recorder Scott Clark and Auditor Pete Frazier. Clark Summers' letter included a brief history of salary and job description determination for county employees and a copy of the county's salary guidelines.

The auditor's proposal would promote Beth Biri, the office deputy, to chief deputy with a $5,000 raise and $2,000 in benefits instead of hiring a new person for the position, leaving her position open. If the change was made permanent by eliminating the deputy position, there would be a savings of around $30,000 annually. The recorder's proposal calls for raising two current employees' salaries by $4,000 each and not filling a deputy position vacated by retirement earlier in the year. The change could save the county around $25,000.

Clark Summers recently said the salary increases in the recorder's proposal could cause morale problems because employees in other departments who had taken on extra responsibilities would not receive raises and those departments, hers included, couldn't cut staff like the recorder and auditor offices. She said she had no issue with the auditor's proposal because a person had left and he is filling the empty position by promoting a deputy clerk to chief deputy.

Clark Summers said Friday she sent the letter to the commission because she felt like they didn't have the information they needed to make a decision.

"I am not saying the positions aren't warranted more money, but I think there are other positions where people have taken on more responsibilities and they need to be looked at," she said, "and of course you want to reward your employees, because they are the ones out there on the front line working for you."

Commissioner Jay Purcell said Friday he responded to Clark Summers' letter by email. On June 14, Purcell sent his reply to fellow commissioners Tracy and Paul Koeper, Frazier, and to his administrative assistant with a request to send the message to Clark. Clark said Friday he did receive the email but did not want to comment because the discussion was still ongoing. In his response, Purcell said he was concerned there had been no movement on the issue and he was willing to discuss the proposals before a vote. He suggested the issue be further discussed at the next commission meeting, which was held June 16. The issue was not added to that meeting's agenda and was not discussed.

"I assumed we tabled this issue because there was a sincere desire to reach a compromise/consensus balance that we could agree on, I don't see how that is possible without discussions," Purcell wrote in the email.

He wrote further, saying he thought the auditor's proposal was solid because it intended to promote an existing employee to be the auditor's new chief deputy, but said he questioned whether the raise was in line other departments' chief deputy salaries while taking into account years of service, grade and other factors.

"The offer to not fill the vacant position in the auditor's office is one that I support but I feel has little impact on the decision to give Beth a raise accompanying a promotion to chief deputy," Purcell wrote.

Purcell also addressed the recorder's proposal, saying it was different in the sense that there would be no real promotion that would merit a salary increase.

"Although I am supportive of any proposals that promote reducing and consolidating county offices and positions, I believe we need to study this issue very closely," he wrote.

eragan@semissourian.com

243-6635

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1 Barton Square, Jackson MO

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