County updates salaries, talks Oak Hill

The Monroe County Board updated salaries for three elected county positions, heard updates on Oak Hill and discussed other matters during its May 18 meeting.

At the start, Pat Kelly, a Monroe County resident and frequent meeting attendee, read a prepared statement critical of the May 4 board session’s encouragement of businesses to reopen.  

He said so doing without insurance or liability coverage would be reckless in this current coronavirus pandemic. He attributed the encouragement to “politics, plain and simple.”

Commissioners approved an ordinance updating salaries for coroner, county commissioner and circuit clerk.  

The salary for the part-time position of coroner will be increased by 4.5 percent to $34,839 per year for this fiscal year (Dec. 1 to Nov. 30), $37,339 and $40,000 (up 7.2 percent) for each of the following two fiscal years.  

The salaries for county commissioners will rise 1 percent to $30,294 and $30,597 over the next two fiscal years.

The circuit clerk, a full-time position, will see a 2 percent salary raise this year to $77,137 and another 2 percent to $78,680 for the next year.

After these set raises, each position will be given raises adjusted to the consumer price index, unless the CPI goes up more than 3 percent, in which case raises will be capped at 2.99 percent. 

Monroe County Clerk Jonathan McLean noted that for the last 20 years, the CPI has averaged less than 2 percent.

Oak Hill Administrator Kim  Keckritz said despite the pressures from COVID-19 – which brought about several steps including stopping visitation on March 9 – both the number of residents and budget measures remain good for the fiscal year.

Since March 9, 44 employees have been quarantined due to symptoms or virus testing, with only three staff testing positive for the illness.  Of note, no Oak Hill residents have tested positive to date.  

Keckritz also said an ongoing Certified Nursing Assistant training program is progressing well and will add 10 new CNAs to the staff at the end of May.  

Commissioner Dennis Knobloch reported on the work of a committee he has headed to narrow down applicants to assume the role of Oak Hill administrator. The group narrowed five applicants down to the best qualified three and invited them to be interviewed. 

One declined, and the remaining two were interviewed. The committee is continuing to review results and Knobloch said they could reach a decision soon.

In a related matter, the board tabled consideration of hiring Paycom to handle payroll matters for Oak Hill. Knobloch said this is an important human relations matter and the soon-to-be-chosen Oak Hill administrator should be part of the final decision.

Monroe County Economic Development Coordinator Edie Koch presented two businesses applying for Community Development Block Grants to sustain their businesses in this difficult economic time. They were Route 3 Bar & Grill south of Waterloo and Back Street Wine & Dine in Hecker.  

These grants are from federal funds issued to states and administered by local governments to help businesses survive COVID-19 shutdowns.  They are to be used to reopen and support such expenses such as salaries and other operating expenses for a period of 60 days.  

The two grants were for $24,798 and $24,778, respectively. Owners must agree to restore their previous employees to work to earn the grants.  

There have been several efforts to inform businesses of these grants and assist them in applying.  The two grants noted here are in the unincorporated areas of the county and grant money will be disbursed through the county. Waterloo, Columbia, Valmeyer and Hecker have also handled grants.  

Knobloch said there are fewer grant applications than might be expected, noting that grant applicants are required to provide three years of detailed financial documentation and many business owners simply do not want such information to become part of the public record.  

Five information technology firms presented half-hour proposals to assume IT support for the courthouse when the current provider’s contract ends.  They included the current contract holder for the last three years, Americom IT Support, along with Sidebarr Technologies of Waterloo, CTS Technologies of Sparta, Karpel Solutions of St. Louis and CompuType IT of Belleville.

The firm selected will provide services including computer security, data back-up, equipment and software updating advice and set-up, routine help-desk support, on-site help as needed and training.

Monroe County Circuit Clerk Lisa Fallon requested permission to replace aging computers in her office, noting several are at best marginally capable of meeting requirements in times when more business is being managed and conducted with computers. She estimated purchasing eight computers will cost about $8,000, noting that during COVID-19, the board had requested supervisors to OK spending of more than $1,000 on an individual item. 

She said several computers were no longer legally compliant with HIPPA requirements due to Windows 7 operating systems that could not be upgraded to Windows 10. 

The board approved Fallon’s request, complimenting her for her work to bring computer support in her office up to date.

The next meeting of the Monroe County Board will be 8:15 a.m., Monday, June 1.  Meetings are open to the public.  

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Alan Dooley

Alan is a photojournalist -- he both shoots pictures and writes for the R-T. A 31-year Navy vet, he has lived worldwide, but with his wife Sherry, calls a rambling house south of Waterloo home. Alan counts astronomy as a hobby and is fascinated by just about everything scientific.
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