Four Madison County Departments request extra pay, comp time for employees
Posted by Bluangel on April 1, 2020, 9:30 pm
working 'in person' during COVID-19 pandemic. |
As Madison County departments work with “skeleton crews” in an effort to comply with COVID-19 guidelines, four department heads are requesting additional pay and comp time as an incentive for employees who come to the office to work in person - amounting to nearly $400,000 in extra liability for a two week pay period.
Madison County Compliance Manager John Thompson said the Sheriff’s Department, State’s Attorney’s Office, Auditor’s Office, and Recorder’s Office have asked for the extra compensation for the payroll period ending March 27, though each department made different payroll requests.
None of the department heads could be reached for comment.
Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler said he is fighting the additional payroll requests.
"I was elected to fight for the taxpayer and I'm not going to stand for county employees getting double pay for doing their normal job," Prenzler said. "The State's Attorney lawyers came to my administration saying we must accept this double pay, but I said no, and it has to stop. In one payroll the Democratic Auditor, State's Attorney, Recorder and Sheriff gave away almost $400,000 in benefits while many Madison County taxpayers are losing their jobs. It's shameful."
An email to the Madison County Board Finance Committee with a chart laying out each department's detailed request, was sent after the deadline for payroll records passed at noon Wednesday.
According to that chart, the four departments seeking extra compensation have requested a total of 11,101.72 comp hours for an unspecified number of union and non-union employees, which translates to $381,026.26 in earnings liability for a two-week period, and 105.5 additional hours of pay in the Recorder's office, which translates to $5,740.68 in additional earnings.
Specifically, the Auditor requests a half hour of comp time for every hour worked for both union and non-union employees, which is equivalent to one and a half hours of pay. The Auditor requests a total of 176 comp hours for employees, which translates to an additional $5,480.65 in earnings liability.
The Recorder requests one hour of comp time for every hour worked for some employees and 1.5 hours of comp time for every hour worked for others. It is not clear why some employees would receive more time. The Recorder requests a total of 320.22 comp hours, totaling $8,077.23 in extra earnings liability.
However, non-union employees request one hour of overtime for every hour worked instead of comp time, which is equivalent to two and a half hours of pay. Two employees in the Recorder's Office claim 105.5 additional hours. These hours amount to $5,740.68 in extra earnings to be paid.
The Sheriff requests eight hours of comp time for every week day for both union and non-union employees, which is equivalent to two hours of pay. The Sheriff requests a total of 6,603.50 comp hours for department employees and 3,844 comp hours for jail employees. Those hours translate to $242,717.63 in extra earnings libaility for department employees and $118,090.48 for jail employees.
The State’s Attorney requests one and a half hours of comp time for every hour worked for both union and non-union employees, which is equivalent to two and a half hours of pay. The State’s Attorney requests a total of 158 comp hours for employees, which translates to $6,660.27 in extra earnings liability.
How many employees in each department would receive extra compensation is unclear, and calls to department heads for clarification were not returned.
Because payroll was finalized Wednesday, any actual monetary compensation is final and will be paid. However, comp time that has been submitted will be discussed at a Finance Committee meeting Friday.
Thompson said that the requested comp time isn’t actual additional pay per se, but it is payroll liability. Comp time can be used like paid personal days in addition to regular vacation and sick time. Each time an employee uses comp time, another employee must fill in by working overtime and earning overtime pay.
For any unused comp time, he said employees at the Sheriff's Department will be allowed at the end of the year to carry 200 hours of comp time over to 2021, and all other county employees will be able to carry over 24 hours of comp time. Any additional comp time that cannot be carried over will be paid out in cash.
“It’s not an expense now,” Thompson said, “but it is a liability now.”
Madison County Board Member Chrissy Dutton said it should not be the taxpayers’ burden to provide extra compensation for county employees when many taxpayers may not be receiving a wage at all during this time.
“I don’t have the option to work from home, and no work for me means no pay,” Dutton said. “I’m happy for those able to still earn an income during this time, but I’m extremely disappointed to hear we have some county offices expecting to cash in on this awful pandemic situation. I hope it doesn’t happen and instead I’d like to see some real leadership from our department heads. They should be managing their employees appropriately while not putting a bigger burden on taxpayers."
Dutton applauded county employees and their hard work, especially the health department – which is not asking for extra compensation during this health crisis.
“I am proud of Madison County workers and the services they provide,” she said. “There is probably no department working harder than the health department right now. I speak to and receive frequent updates from director Toni Corona. She and her team are tasked with far more than most of us have to deal with and they are doing a great job. As far as I know that department isn’t asking for extra pay in addition to their regular compensation. It doesn’t seem right for county employees to get paid extra to do their regular jobs while the out-of-work taxpayer foots the bill.”
Prenzler added that while health department employees are working as much as possible from home to protect themselves and the general public, they are not requesting any additional pay.
“Our health department is in the middle of a pandemic,” Prenzler said. “They are not being paid double time. They trained for this. They prepared for this.”
Dutton and Prenzler also said that as Madison County residents and communities face potential financial struggles, county officials should be looking for ways to save money.
“So many people in our communities are struggling with unexpected job loss or decreased wages,” Dutton said. “We are all being forced to tighten our belts and live within our means, and the government should be no exception. During this time, now more than ever, the county should be conserving our resources, not increasing wages.”
Thompson added that it is still unclear what effect the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act will have on various county departments, which went into effect Wednesday and will apply through Dec. 31.
According to Gov. JB Pritzker’s Families First Coronavirus Response Act, employers are required to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.
In general, the Act provides employees with two weeks paid sick leave at their regular rate if they are unable to work because they are ordered to quarantine or isolate themselves by federal, state or local officials or a healthcare provider. They would receive two weeks paid sick leave at two-thirds their regular rate if employees are unable to work because they are caring for someone who is quarantined.
Further, employees are provided up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds their pay if they are unable to work because they need to care for a child whose school or care center is closed due to COVID-19.
A special finance committee meeting will be held Friday at 1 p.m. via telephone to address the additional payroll requests. Members of the public may call in to the meeting. The call-in number will be provided on the meeting agenda, which can be found online Wednesday afternoon.
None of the department heads could be reached for comment.
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