County health department 'raises' disputed : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|County health department 'raises' disputed|
|New director says increases due to re-organization and saved county money|
|by Matt Schury|
Kendall County Board member Anne Vickery and Dr. Amaal Tokars, the County Health Department's executive director, have two different views of how a recent reorganization of duties at that department affected the county's bottom line.
Vickery said during Tuesday night's board meeting she was upset to learn that reorganization resulted in employees being given what she considered raises.
However, Dr. Amaal Tokars, the Health Department's executive director, said the extra money paid to employees resulted from reassigning duties and actually resulted in a net savings to the county.
Vickery, who chairs the board's Finance Committee, had been out of town for about two weeks and did not know Tokars and the County Board of Health made a decision to restructure Tokars' former position of assistant executive director.
Tokars took over as executive director in March after long-time director Cheryl Johnson retired.
She explained that instead of filling the position she decided to break the duties of the vacancy between herself and four other employees immediately. That resulted in the four Health Department employees receiving more duties and responsibilities as well as increases in their pay, Tokars told the board.
Vickery read the names of the four employees who would be receiving an extra $2,900 to $17,000 in compensation this year. The pay increases totaled $35,568 among the four.
"I don't know what to say about that," Vickery said. "When you come through mid-year and you put on and you give raises like that, and we got rid of-I should say laid off-- Jerry Dudgeon (former county planning, building and zoning director) and he had a salary of about $89,000 and nobody up there got a raise not one stinkin' person got a raise," Vickery said.
Tokars responded that she actually saved the county money by not distributing the entire amount of money that had been her salary previously as assistant executive director. The left over money she said she was saving the county totaled about $35,000.
Tokars' current salary, set by the Board of Health, is $105,000 annually.
"The $35,000 in savings come from a number of changes in positions that have been discussed in closed session," she said.
Tokars explained that she discussed the decision with the Board of Health who approved of the change and also called Board Chairman John Purcell and presented the change to the Finance Committee when Vickery was on vacation. Tokars added that she called Vickery and left a message about what was going on.
Vickery responded that she never received a message.
"I had no message on my cell phone," Vickery said.
Tokars recalled that she knew Vickery was on vacation and said that payroll slips went in and there would be some cost savings that the staff might not understand and she wanted to talk about the details of the change.
"I'm sorry you didn't get that but that was definitely on your cell phone," she Tokars said.
Board member Jeff Wehrli who sits on the Board of Health as the County Board's liaison defended the move by Tokars.
"Do you understand the difference between a raise and a shift in position?" Wehrli asked Vickery. "It seems like you're the only one on this board that doesn't understand the difference between a raise and a shift in position. When there are shifts in positions, people get different salaries."
Wehrli continued, "If you were working on the assembly line and you became the CEO and got an extra $100,000, that's not a raise, that's a shift in position."
"Who here in this room has ever gotten a $17,000 raise? Huh? Who?" Vickery asked.
Wehrli raised his hand.
"You paid yourself maybe-a $17,000 raise in one year? I don't think I believe that," Vickery said adding that she wondered where the $5,000 for the IMRF and social security was going to come from.
"That's coming out of your budget," Vickery said looking at Wehrli. "That's not coming out of this county budget."
Vickery added that it might be time for the County Board and Board of Health to have a sit down.
"I think it's time that this County Board and that Board of Health sit down and have what they call-as our president would say-a real discussion," Vickery continued. "I'll tell you, I'm appalled."
Other board members seemed uneasy with the move including Jessie Hafenrichter and Nancy Martin who shared Vickery's claim that the position should have been left vacant.
"Everywhere in this county when people have left we have not necessarily replaced them to save the taxpayers money," Martin said.
Martin added that they should have at least waited until next year's budget to make changes.
Board member Bob Davidson agreed with Vickery that the two boards should and have a discussion.
"I think we need to get that board (of health) in here and I want to hear what they're talking about cause I got problems now, big problems," Davidson said.