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June 18, 2024

Edgar County Health Department Meeting Wednesday, 10/19/2022 at 7 AM – We Urge Attendance

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On October 18, 2022

Edgar Co. (ECWd) –

The Edgar County Public Health Department Board is holding a meeting Wednesday of this week at 7 AM.  There are several agenda items for action, including salaries, base hours, and the effective dates for those items.

We submitted Freedom of Information Act requests for numerous records to include minutes and payroll records.  From what we received it is clear there are problems.  The county board appoints members to the health board and those appointments are for specific terms, however, minutes reflect Janet Mason presented a new “Member Term” schedule for board members. Had Mason or any of the other board members actually read the law they are bound by they would see such actions violate state law.

(55 ILCS 5/5-25012) (from Ch. 34, par. 5-25012)
    Sec. 5-25012. Board of health. Except in those cases where a board of 10 or 12 members is provided for as authorized in this Section, each county health department shall be managed by a board of health consisting of 8 members appointed by the president or chairman of the county board, with the approval of the county board, for a 3 year term, except that of the first appointees 2 shall serve for one year, 2 for 2 years, 3 for 3 years and the term of the member appointed from the county board, as provided in this Section, shall be one year and shall continue until reappointment or until a successor is appointed.

Most of the board had not complied with the required Open Meetings Act training until our request for certificates was made and to date, some have still not complied.

Payroll records for the former Administrator Janet Mason raise numerous red flags.

Mason, according to payroll records, was paid hourly as the administrator for years.  However, in 2019, the timekeeping records do not indicate when she arrived at work and left work from April to December, and from January to March 2020, according to 2020 timekeeping records. Those records simply have an entry for every day of 7.50 hours.  According to the policy manual, timekeeping records are required for hourly personnel.   Page 56 of the policy manual is clear. “All employees must record their time worked using current Department timekeeping procedures. All work time must be accounted for.  We can assume the word ALL does not really mean ALL as Mason, the director of the health department at the time in question, was not keeping a record of the hours she worked according to the records.

The Health Department failed to provide any 2022 timekeeping records for Mason claiming she was put on salary effective 12/1/2021.  The problem with that claim is the payroll submitted and paid through 12/2021 to 2/2022 reflects Mason was hourly.  It was not until February 18, 2022, official payroll record reflects Mason was Salary.  All the prior records reflect she was hourly yet there are no records of what hours she worked during that time frame. Monica Dunn was the Director during this time and it appears she failed to ensure her employee was complying with the timekeeping requirement as outlined in the policy.  Looking at the 12/10/2021 official payroll record, Mason worked 60 hours and is listed as hourly. What were the actual hours worked?

Even more troubling, how does a person receive “flex pay” when the office is closed? Oh, wait.  Let’s back up.  Flex pay is not listed anywhere in the policy manual so we are not sure who created the term or how it is to be applied.  In the December 1, 2017 timekeeping records, Mason received 21 hours of “flex time” even though the office was closed according to the records.  In October of that year, (same file), she received 3 hrs of flex time for the Honey Bee parade.  In July of 2018, Mason claimed three hours of flex time for a time card that only reflects 2 hours worked.  If that is accurate, it would appear flex time is considered overtime but that does not resolve how a person gets overtime when the office is closed.

Based on the records provided, the only timesheet for Mason during the 5/1/2020 pay cycle is for overtime. After initially being denied certain records, we now have received the actual master payroll record for that time frame. The official master payroll record indicates regular hours of work yet they have not produced any corresponding timekeeping record. Mason allegedly worked 36.5 hours of regular time and 38.5 for Paid Time Off-Covid. How ironic that the master payroll does not reflect any overtime pay even though the timekeeping records claim 18.5 hours of overtime.

Another example of what we would call a complete disconnect for their own policies, we asked for the travel reimbursement policy, a requirement under state law.  Initially, they said:

“I found no resolution or ordinance adopted concerning the Local Government Travel Expense Control Act.”

They then followed up about an hour later with the county’s adopted policy and said that is the one they follow at the health department.

“Attached is the travel allowance policy for all county employees.  This is the policy the health department follows.”

The response pretty much proved our suspicion.  The policy manual for the Health Department has a travel reimbursement directive which violates state law, which is why we asked for the records required.  Asking for the required policy first results in no such policy can be found, which indicates they are not reading their own policy manual.  Providing the county policy adopted by the county board after the initial denial of the appropriate record indicates they are either not familiar with their own policy manual that has an illegal policy, or they are now claiming the county policy is the correct one.  If the latter is the case, they need to amend their policy manual to conform with the county resolution.

The regular meeting of the Health Board is set to begin at 7 am tomorrow morning at the County Health Department.  A copy of the agenda can be downloaded at this link or viewed below. We urge everyone to take an interest in their local government and attend this and any other local government meeting in your community.

Board of Health Agenda 10.19.22_

 

 

 

 

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