County Board Adopts Nepotism Provision

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Published on April 16 2013 12:06 am
Last Updated on July 14 2013 4:07 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

The Effingham County Board Monday amended the County Ethics Ordinance to include a provision concerning nepotism.  One officeholder took exception to the action.

The vote is immediately effective and prohibits a family member from working under the direct supervisory authority of another family member.  The Board added cohabitants to the ordinance just ahead of the vote. 

Effingham County Sheriff John Monnet took offense to the vote.  Monnet, who has two sons working in his department said he had heard rumors that the action was directed at him.  He cited other law enforcement agencies where relatives work together, but County Board Chairman Jim Niemann said the measure prohibits one relative from supervising another, not working together.  The measure also does not affect existing employees.

The Board considered and then did not vote on an ordinance regulating video gaming.  The measure would have contained additional provisions suggested by the sheriff's department that would target establishments other than those that sell alcohol.  Niemann said, "I believe local law enforcement is more than adequate to enforce guidelines included in state statutes.  This (proposal) was put on my desk by the sheriff's department, and I promised when I became Chairman I would bring matters of concern to local officials to the full Board."

The Board was scheduled to vote on a property tax abatement for Southeastern Container, but delayed the vote until May.  Niemann said they'd like to "get the language right."  City Economic Development Advisor Todd Hull said the City likely won't vote on their incentive until May, either. 

Southeastern Container was considering a move out of Effingham, but the City and County worked together to develop a package of incentives to keep the company here.

Board members approved another package of measures related to implementing a public transportation system for the county.  The Board also adopted an animal control fee schedule that would cover the cost of spaying or neutering an animal.  If the animal is already spayed or neutered, the pet adopter would pay the previous fee.  The measure also institutes Saturday morning hours of 7-10am for the animal control facility.  The changes are effective May 1.

The Board allocated $1,000 in pari mutuel revenue to the cost of a Chamber Legislative Day set for April 29.  The goal is to bring legislators from throughout the state to Effingham County to help them understand the needs of the county when considering legislation.  Board members also appointed Larry Doty to a three-year term as a Tri-County Fire Protection District trustee, Elwin Stuemke to a three-year term as an Altamont Fire Protection District trustee, and and Karen Luchtefeld to replace Doug McCain as a County Board representative on the County Board of Health.  Niemann said, "It was a mistake on my part (to remove Luchtefeld as the Board's representatative); I didn't know that Karen had projects underway, and this will correct it."

Board members hired Pam Jacobs as County Emergency Services Agency Director, succeeding Russ Thomas, who is retiring from the post.  Jacobs was hired for a 60-day probationary period and will work under Thomas before a final decision is made on making her hiring permanent.  She will be paid for a 30-hour work week based on a $30,000 salary for the 60-day period.  If she is offered a contract, Niemann said she'd be paid $34,000 a year.  Board member Mike Depoister voted No on the hiring.

The Board also approved a two-year contract with the Fraternal Order of Police Local representing county correctional officers, telecommunicators, bailiffs, process servers, office deputies and records clerks in the county sheriff's department.  Niemann said the employees would receive a 2% raise for this year and a 2-1/2% raise for next year.  This year's provision is retroactive to September 1, 2012 when the contract with road deputies took effect.  Niemann said the move will make the contracts with all sheriff's department employees end at the same time.

Board members awarded contracts for two bridge replacement projects, one for $154,000 southwest of Dieterich, the other for $121,000 southeast of Dieterich.  One is on the Jasper County line so will be a shared project.

The Board also awarded bids for road maintenance materials for the construction season, and heard from County Supervisor of Assessments Pam Braun that they're waiting on the tax multiplier so the process of preparing tax bills can begin.  Braun anticipates about the same timetable as last year.