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June 23, 2024

Shelby County – Actions Have Consequences

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On May 18, 2024

Shelby Co. (ECWd) –
After publishing this article regarding a call for a special county board meeting in Shelby County, it appears, once again, that the local hysteria is so ingrained in a narrative supporting their anger that all logical thought processes have vanished from the discussion.  The hysteria and in some cases, outright fabrications have focused mostly on an agreement entered into by the former State’s Attorney and one of his Assistants.
Understanding the facts about county government would be a good starting point.

While the Counties Code outlines a State’s Attorney’s powers and duties, the Office of State’s Attorney is not an office of the county but rather an office of the executive branch of state government.  The County Board has zero control over that office as it relates to employment, contrary to some of the comments circulating across social media. The powers of a county board to that office are budgetary, as in they approve the budget submitted. The county board has zero power to vote on the employment powers of an executive branch of the state government.

Separation Agreement

The former State’s Attorney hired an assistant with a verbal agreement that the employment would be through November 30, 2024.  While we believe a written agreement is always a better mechanism than a verbal agreement, we must note that prior officeholders exercised the same liberty of verbal agreements and issued benefits that cost the taxpayers.  The same select few expressing outrage now sat silent when it was a different person in office.

Understanding the triggers when a State’s Attorney resigns is important.  Upon the resignation, any assistant that was working for that office has their appointment severed.  In this case, the SA resigned for two reasons, nonstop harassment by a select few citizens and the other for his own personal business reasons.   While many locals are excited that he resigned, they have failed to understand the consequences of that resignation.

With his assistant on Family Medical Leave, they would be terminated upon the SA’s resignation.  Considering the law forbids termination while on FML, the employee would have a claim against the county for the termination with the resulting cost to the county being far greater than the one realized by having a release of claims signed as part of the employment termination agreement.

A comparison would be similar to the union grievance recently settled by Shelby County Sheriff Brian McReynolds.  Certain members received funds which we understand would have never happened if it had gone to arbitration because the actual records proved they were not owed anything as alleged. Why settle those claims?  Because the SA, a labor law expert, was departing.  This avoided the expense to the future SA needing to hire a labor law expert to handle the matter, much like former SA Kroncke did.  That cost would far exceed that of the settlement.  It truly comes down to a cost-benefit analysis, not some conspiracy to defraud the taxpayers as some have insinuated.

While some have insinuated this was an orchestrated event, coordinated by the county board for the purpose of watching the new SA and to see that she has very little money left in her budget to hire an ASA for herself, nothing could be further from the truth.

While the actual budget figures reflect there is money in the new SA budget sufficient to hire an Assistant, we have zero reason to believe the board would not do what is necessary to ensure the Office of State’s Attorney has what it needs to operate.

The Sky Is Not Falling

The law is pretty clear when it comes to budgets and what can and can’t be done but one must first read it.  According to the law, in part, “After the adoption of the county budget, transfers of appropriations may be made without a vote of the board

Looking at the budget for the Office of SA, it is clear there are funds available in the line item for an ASA and if that is not enough, there are other line items that can be pulled from, thus there is no need for calling a special meeting, which also brings additional expense to the taxpayers.

If and when an actual budget amendment is needed, the newly appointed SA can make the request and we would suggest including the amount being requested.  The County Board can then take up the matter at a regular meeting.  Doing this at a regular meeting avoids the cost of mandatory publication in the local paper for special meetings.

 

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1 Comment
  • R Grimes
    Posted at 09:15h, 19 May Reply

    Thank you for the explanation of this situation. I do have a couple of questions.

    1) How did Mrs. Abroziak qualify under Department of Labor FMLA eligibility rules to receive this benefit since the requirement is the employee must work 12 months for that employer (Shelby County) before receiving it? Federal Department of Labor rule state this is an eligibility requirement. ( https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fmla/faq )

    2) How was a severance agreement even negotiated without a legally binding hiring contract agreement on file with Shelby County?

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