by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
For the second time, a request by Social Services Director Brad Vold to restructure staff in the financial unit of his department, with a predicted cost savings to the county of $106,000, was voted down by the County Board.
Following the resignation of the financial unit’s Supervisor II in April, Vold used the oppportunity to redesign the structure of the team while seeking to contain costs to the county’s taxpayers.
The plan presented to the County Board Tuesday propposed to eliminate the position that had been vacated. Rather than replace the Supervisor II, two lead worker positions which already had charge of smaller groups of financial eligibility workers, would be elevated to Supervisor I positions, retaining charge of the same groups.
“We would be moving from three management positions on the team to two, with a cost savings of $43,000 for that move,” Vold said.
A second request was made to replace the staff member who resigned with a financial eligibility worker, along with a request to add another eligibility worker, changes which would net a savings of $63,000 for the county because of federal reimbursement.
The proposed structural changes and accompanying grade and step changes were developed with the help of Dorothy Person from Public Employment Human Resources Consulting. The County contracts with the company for determining proper compensation levels for county employees.
Vold presented charts showing the past organizational structure of the financial team as well as the proposed new structure. In addition, proposed changes were described in documents included in the board packets commissioners received prior to the meeting.
“I believe this will be a better way to manage all the changes in the health care world,” Vold said.
Commissioner Randy Winscher objected to the use of two supervisors, despite the proposed lower pay grade of Supervisor I, suggesting that the team would be just as well-served with one supervisor.
Winscher also expressed his constituents’ concerns that by moving the existing lead workers into Supervisor I positions, the opportunity as proposed would not be open to everyone in the department.
“At this time, I personally cannot agree with what you are proposing,” Winscher said.
“People are concerned about spending more money,” said Commissioner Don Meyer, with Board Chair Duane Johnson nodding in agreement.
The board voted three to two to deny the request for supervisor restructuring, with Winscher, Meyer and Johnson against.
The request to hire two eligibility workers was approved by a three to two vote with Commissioners Kevin Maurer, Jeff Jelinski and Winscher in support.
Although two new eligibility workers will be added to take on the increasing caseload of the team, Vold has taken on the duties of the former Supervisor II position in addition to the responsibilities of his job as director.
“As a result of the economic downturn, in 2010 the County Board instituted a policy-level directive regarding what was to happen when position vacancies occur,” said County Administrator Deb Gruber. “Staff vacancies can present a unique opportunity and careful consideration is given when providing recommendations to the County Board on how to move forward. The directive centered on considering customer service, delivery of service including the structure of a department or unit and cost reduction when looking at staffing recommendations.”
“Given the economic times, we don’t have the luxury of continuing as is without considering how we do business and whether or not a better way exists. Rest assured whatever direction is given, we will work to run the county as cost-effectively as possible while continuing to respond to those we serve.”
Other business coming before the Morrison County Commissioners Tuesday included:
• Approving a seasonal food cart license for Dairy Treat in Little Falls;
• Approving the purchase of four new monitors and cables for the County Assessor’s office, not to exceed $1,000;
• Approving the county purchasing policy;
• Authorizing the board chair and the county administrator to administer grant funding for the Pierz Safe Route to School project; and
• Appointing Beth Hamlin, the county’s executive assistant, to be deputy clerk to the Board.
The next meeting of the County Commissioners will be Tuesday, June 4 at 9 a.m. in the board room at the County Government Center.