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33 raise discussed and wage increases approved
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LAFAYETTE COUNTY - The Lafayette County Human Resources Committee met Wednesday, Dec. 7 to take up issues on cost of living distribution and wage increases for Memorial Hospital staff.
After approving the creation of a Nursing Home Administrator/Director of Activities position at the Manor and a wage increase of $3.00/hour, Human Resources Director, Valerie Steiner asked the committee to make a decision whether the $.33 cost of living increase that is given at the beginning of the year also applies to the raise position approved a moment ago.
“With that not being on the agenda, that is kind of a side action, so I am not sure we can decide on that today. I think that the $0.33 increases shouldn’t be added on,” said County Board chairman Jack Sauer. The Committee Chairman David Hammer agreed.
Hammer suggested that they put the issue on the County Board agenda.
Finance Director Nicola Maurer commented that the issue could raise some concerns among county employees and some would consider it not fair for other employees to receive a raise then the cost of living adjustment at the beginning of the year.
“And this has come up in the past. If it is a countywide cost of living adjustment, then it is added on to what the raise people are getting,” Maurer said.
She also commented that the county did it that way because then it won’t create a lot of confusion. The committee should consider that if they were to create a policy stating a raise would begin on Jan. 1, then that position wouldn’t get a cost of living adjustment and have that applied to every position. Maurer said it would create moral issues with employees feeling undervalued.
 Sauer stated that it would create moral issues if they gave the living adjustment and the raise and they could argue the moral issue both ways. “There is no real way to be fair.”
Committee member Larry Ludlum said, “You are giving this person a position, whether it was in July and the cost of living increase goes to the entire county. When you take on a new position and new responsibility, you should be compensated.”
When discussing the $1.50 raise for LPNs and $2.00 raise for RNs at the Manor, Ludlum asked if they would be able to modify the resolution to add in the cost of living increase.
“I think there has been some confusion countywide and who gets a raise at the end of the year, if that includes just the promotion within the department or includes the cost of living. That has to be cleared up.”
Ludlum added that in the Hospital Committee meeting the motion was to have this increase on top of the cost of living increase.
“I want to keep equity and I want to keep our employees,” Ludlum said.
Sauer’s recommendation was to give $1.25 for LPNs and $1.75 for RNs and give the $0.33 on top of that increase.
Hammer asked if the Manor would be able to get more nurses at this wage. Hospital Administrator Julie Chikowski said it would get them closer to being able to recruit.
Maurer commented again on the cost of living adage and how it creates a wage gap between positions. Steiner agreed stating, “If you are not moving everybody, your compression gap gets smaller between certifications and then it creates animosity. If you keep narrowing that gap, we’re not accomplishing what we are trying to do.”
From the assembly, Tony Ruesga agreed adding, “We worry so much about what one person is going to think. They are not the same thing. You can’t compare people doing highway level to CNAs. If you do $0.33 across the board then do everything else based on merit. And we have to start becoming competitive.”
Regarding the acquisition and compensation of the Family Health of Lafayette County employees, Sauer asked if these employees would receive the cost of living increase at the beginning of the year. Chikowski said no and they would not be brought up to the hospital’s current wage for those positions until after a six-month probation period and they meet the criteria standards of the hospital.
It was determined that the cost of living wage increase of $0.33 would be on the agenda for the County Board meeting and for the board to discuss.
The Human Resources Committee also discussed and/or approved:
-refilling the County Veteran’s Service Office Position as Dave Weiskircher will be retiring Feb. 6, 2017. The Veterans Service Committee looked at the current 2016 wages for Grant, Green, Iowa and Richland counties and they were over $21. Weiskircher is currently at $18.63. The committee recommended the starting wage to be $21/hour. Sauer stated that Weiskircher has been in the position for quite some time and if they hire someone with no experience and pay them higher, it was ridiculous. Sauer suggested a range from $18.63-21.00. The motion was approved for the range. Ludlum commented that the Building and Insurance Committee is recommending that the new Veteran’s Service Officer will move their office to the Health Building.
-the reduction of the current Nursing Home Administrator’s oversight, compensation allocation and responsibilities at the Lafayette Manor from 30% to 10%. The Manor is charged 30% of Chikowski’s compensation package, which includes, wages, social security, retirement, health insurance, etc. Chikowski will be an oversight for Peggy Rolli, the new Nursing Home Administrator/Director of Activities and Patricia Reynolds, the Assistant Nursing Home Administrator/Director of Social Services. The Hospital will then pay 90% and the Manor will be 10%.  These will come out of the budget and therefore reduce the levy for the Manor. Ruesga asked why Chikowski’s wage wasn’t being reduced since she wasn’t going to do anything with the Manor. Sauer stated that even though she wasn’t doing things at the Manor, there were still several things to do with the transition of FHLC.
The committee also discussed the wage increase for Chikowski of $20,000 for a total of $155,262. This will come out gradually next year. She will receive a $7,500 in January, then another $7,500 at the completion of the Family Health of Lafayette County transition and another $5,000 on the completion of the rural health clinic status for the clinics. Sauer created the broken down raise because just in case the hospital would need to hire someone else for additional help with the transition of FHLC, they wouldn’t be out the full lump sum. The resolution was approved.
-$1.00/hr wage increase request for two Manor Dietary positions and one Manor Dietary/Activities position. There were six people at the Manor that were eligible, however only three of them had performance reviews and attendance that would support the $1.00/hr increase. Chikowski commented that she felt the whole county should base their raises on performance and attendance.
-the increase in MHLC Human Resources Coordinator from a .6 to a 1.0 FTE in response to the acquisition of FHLC employees to MHLC employees. Shelley Lange will be taking on the responsibility of 27 additional employees and payroll duties associated with that. Steiner stated that ‘the rule of thumb is over 100 employees, then that would be full time and she will have over 130 employees’. This resolution was approved.
-the MHLC Technical Professional wage increase. Chikowski said the hospital is losing technical people to surrounding hospitals due to wages. The hospital is a part of the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative and compares its wages to other hospitals in the coop. They were asked to bring their technical people up to the actual hourly wage. The hospital gets reimbursed for 65% of all the wages for those positions. So instead of costing $90,461, it will cost the hospital $31,661 with the cost-based reimbursement.
-the wage increase for the COO at MHLC. Kathy Kuepers will receive $20,000 on top of her $86,582.50 salary, much the same as Chikowski will receive her wage increase. The committee also approved the wage increase for the CNO of MHLC Terry Vieth for a $2.00/hour increase to his current hourly rate of $36.64.
-a wage increase for the Finance Manager of MHLC of $5,000. Molly Wiegel was brought in at less than they were paying the previous Finance Manager and Chikowski is pleased with everything she has been doing. She will be going on maternity leave the beginning of the year. She will receive $2500 one month after she returns from maternity leave and another $2500 after the completion of the six-month analysis of FHLC employees. The committee also approved $2.00/hour increases for two Clinical Application Specialists, an Environmental Supervisor and the Purchasing Supervisor at MHLC, along with a $1.50 raise for the HIM position at MHLC.
-the Human Services request to refill any vacated position without the HR Committee approval, similar to the Manor, Hospital and Law Enforcement. Sauer said he wrote the resolution and said it was for 24/7 facilities so they could refill positions quickly. He was against it. Human Services Director, Shane Schumacher said they are a 24/7 facility and are on call after hours. Schumacher agreed with what Sauer and Hammer said about wanting to know who and what they have on staff. He asked that this would allow for people in certain positions to come in and train faster than having to wait for approval. Ludlum felt that some positions there need to be filled immediately. The resolution passed with Hammer voting against.
-the refilling of Foster Care Coordinator/Social Worker in the Family Services Unit.