County departments moving toward sharing staff

The Marion County Commission Monday shuffled employees to meet such situations as H1N1 flu requirements and seasonal tax staff demands on a limited budget.

The commissioners voted 3-0 to pull money from government grants for H1N1 to increase Health Department Admini?strator Diedre Serene from her 20 hours a week contract to full-time 37.5 hours a week on the same hourly rate for a $19,876 annual wage increase plus $2 a month more for life insurance.

Commission Chairman Dan Holub said they were not allowed by state law to increase Serene from county money. He and the other commissioners expect to take another look at the situation Jan. 1.

After a 15-minute executive session with Serene, Holub announced that under the part-time situation, she was running out of hours for the year.

He explained that this was due, for both her and her staff, to increased requirements for communication and coordination with the state because of H1N1. He said Serene also had to spend hours in securing supplies of H1N1 for Marion County.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said he was ?reluctantly voting aye? for expanding Serene?s hours due to ?continuing government requirements.?

In a second crush-time employee situation, after an executive session with Gayla Ratzlaff, coordinator for the Department of Elderly, and Treasurer Jeannine Bateman, followed by another executive session that Lanell Hett, staff member in Ratzlaff?s office, Ratzlaff and Bateman were directed to work out sharing Hett?s hours in both departments.

The commissioners also increased hours for Bateman?s four employees in the treasurer?s office from 37.5 each weekly to 40.

Holub said this was due to a situation over the past two weeks when Bateman had lost one full-time employee during the season of increased staff demands because property taxes and end-of-year accounting.

Dallke said the increased hours were workable under the current budget because increasing by 2.5 hours weekly for four employees was about the same amount of money as what would have been paid for one full-time employee.

Holub said Hett will require some training for the treasurer?s office even though she is a long-time employee with the Department for Elderly.

Hein said he believes Ratzlaff and Bateman are capable of working out sharing an employee, and he is confident of Hett.

?Lanell does good work, and I think it will work out all right,? he said.

Dallke said such sharing may become a continuing practice in challenging economic times.

The commissioners said they may take a look at hiring more part-time temporary workers for road and bridge the first of the year to enable the department to get caught up on road maintenance.

As an immediate cost-saving measure, the commissioners voted 2-1, Dallke dissenting, to keep the ?Lalouette bridge? east of Florence off the county bridge five-year plan for replacement.

Holub said the bridge would continue in use as it is, and probably could last up to 25 years, being only fit for cars and pickups to pass over, but not heavier loads or machinery.

Hein reminded Acting Road and Bridge Director John Summerville to keep the bridge posted for weight limits.

Summerville said it is rare that more than 10 vehicles will pass over the bridge in a day.

For the full report of Monday?s commission meeting, go to ?Breaking News? at hillsboro?freepress.com

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