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|5/22/2013 ||Email this article Print this article |
|Clinton County supervisors look at anti-nepotism policy|
By Jeremy Huss
The Clinton County Board of Supervisors is considering an anti-nepotism policy to ensure family members of county employees don't receive favoritism in the hiring process.
The policy would prohibit the hiring of immediate family members of a county employee in cases where it would:
Create a supervisor/subordinate relationship with a family member.
Have the potential for creating an adverse impact on work performance.
Create either an actual conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Clinton County human resources director Lynn Tibbetts presented the policy to the supervisors May 20.
Tibbetts said the county has had an "unwritten rule" to prevent an employee from supervising a spouse, but has no formal policy regarding nepotism.
She said she discovered last fall no formal policy was in place, and attorney Wylie Pillers recommended one be established. Pillers handles legal duties associated with the county's collective bargaining agreements.
The policy defines immediate family members as a spouse, parent, child, sibling, in-law, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, grandparent, grandchild or any other members of the household. It also would apply to romantic relationships among county employees.
The policy states it is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of marital status or personal relationship, but "the county may reasonably regulate the work situation of individuals in relationships outlined above for bona fide business reasons of supervision, safety, security and/or morale."
The policy states employees who become immediate family members or establish a romantic relationship may continue employment as long as it does not involve the three main concerns cited above.
To ensure individuals with familial or romantic relationships are hired and evaluated solely on the basis of individual merit, county employees will be prohibited from participating in a decision or recommendation related to hiring, promotion, retention, termination or any other condition of employment of a close relative.
In instances where close relatives would be employed in the same work organization, the elected official, department head or human resources department will ensure the anti-nepotism policy is not violated.
Supervisor Jill Davisson suggested an even stricter policy that would prevent family members of an employee from working in the same department.
She said former county auditor Charlie Sheridan once was "nailed" and had to re-pay funds after hiring a niece to work in his office.
Supervisor John Staszewski asked about the impact of the policy on employee unions, and asked if the anti-nepotism policy would prevent two brothers from working in the same department.
Staszewski's brother, Ed Staszewski, is director of Veterans Affairs for Clinton County. Davisson said there is no conflict in that case because Ed Staszewski was hired by the Veterans Affairs Commission, not the board of supervisors.
Building maintenance manager Corey Johnson said husband and wife cases are more typical.
Tibbetts said married couples who are employed by the county have caused issues with the union "bumping" process when positions are cut.
Tibbetts said policies in other counties vary. Some counties avoid hiring relatives of an employee altogether. Some have rules allowing employees in the same department to date but require a person to transfer out of the department if the couples become married.
Tibbetts said the anti-nepotism policy already is in place for elected officials but needs to be added to the general county employee handbook.
Davisson commented prohibiting family members from working in the same department or bargaining unit would eliminate most of the potential conflicts.
The supervisors will consider a resolution to approve the anti-nepotism policy at its May 29 meeting.
Revisions to vehicle policy
Another proposal would establish revised requirements in an existing policy for county vehicle and equipment operations and safety.
The proposed revision adds language regarding proper vehicle maintenance and cell phone usage.
A recommendation from county attorney Mike Wolf would add language prohibiting the carrying of weapons in a county vehicle except by individuals authorized to carry weapons, such as law enforcement.
The other addition is a requirement to show proof of vehicle registration annually to the department head in addition to providing proof of insurance when an employee is using a personal vehicle for county business and requesting mileage reimbursement.
To be eligible to drive a county-owned vehicle, drivers must be 18 years old and have no more than four moving violations within the prior three years.
Tibbetts said department heads need to be sure to check an employee's driving record on an annual basis.
Auditor Eric Van Lancker said department heads can check an employee's drivers license status, registration and insurance for the use of personal vehicles, but the county shouldn't keep copies of personal records on file.
Board secretary position
The board reviewed the proposed job description for a part-time board secretary position to handle gun permit ID cards, run the phone switchboard, process manure management and enterprise zone applications, fill vacancies on boards and commissions and assist in other duties as required.
The supervisors will vote May 29 on a resolution to approve the job description and begin the process to hire an employee for a July 1 start date.
In other business, the board:
Approved a property tax suspension for Margaret and Norman Holle, 506 N. Third St., Clinton.
Re-appointed Jim Cox to a four-year term as the county attorney's representative to the Clinton County Civil Service Commission.
Approved the purchase of a Caterpillar 140M2 motor grader from Altorfer Equipment for $167,213 after trade-in.
A bid for a Volvo-brand grader from Scott Van Keppel was $867 less, but county engineer Todd Kinney said the Cat machine has a five-year resale value that is more than $80,000 higher than the Volvo, making it the least expensive to own over the long run.
Approved a resolution establishing county holidays for fiscal year 2014.
Approved a resolution to schedule a public hearing on an amendment to the county budget at 10 a.m., Wednesday, May 29.
Approved the final plans and specifications for phase II of renovations to the county's new DeWitt annex building.
Approved the purchase of a 2013 Chevy Silverado for the building maintenance department from Krieger's of DeWitt for $25,500, $224.45 less than the state bid price.
Approved the second reading and final adoption of two zoning ordinances required to correct errors in legal descriptions.
Authorized Windstream Communications to install fiber optic cable along 340th Avenue in Eden Township.
Authorized roadside management director Andy Friederichsen to use $10,000 budgeted for concrete to purchase an ATV because the concrete work has been delayed for a year.
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