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Tue, Oct 21, 2014 03:04 AM
Issue of October 15, 2014
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Personnel policy focus of meeting

June 04, 2014 | 10:15 AM

The Harrison County Board of Commissioners Monday morning discussed and reviewed the new personnel policy which will go into effect July 1.

A meeting with all county department heads will take place tomorrow (Thursday) at 9 a.m. at the Government Center to update everyone about the changes, such as the removal of the exemptions — the sheriff and coroner — from the nepotism laws. The previous board of commissioners put the exemptions in because it was often customary for the wife of the sheriff or coroner to work under her husband, as either the jail matron or the coroner's secretary/assistant. The current sheriff, Rodney (Rod) Seelye, replaced the matron position altogether to add a part-time investigative officer.

Last year, the board approved an annual independent contract for coroner Rusty Sizemore's wife as an office assistant.

The previous board of commissioners approved a nepotism ordinance in 2012 to fall in line with state guidelines that restrict local officials from hiring or promoting family members or relatives.

The ordinance and state law specifies that relatives may not be employed by the county in positions that result in one relative being in the direct line of supervision of the other relative.

The law applies to all county entities, including townships and fire departments.

Then-Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the law that prohibits local officeholders from hiring relatives or from having public contracts with them without making certain disclosures. The law also prohibits public employees from holding any office that controls money or policies that might benefit them. Under that provision, those employees couldn't run for re-election but they could keep their current position.

The law defines a relative to include a spouse, parent or step-parent, a child or stepchild, a brother, sister, stepbrother or stepsister, a niece or nephew, aunt or uncle, daughter-in-law or son-in-law, adopted child and a half brother or half sister.

The commissioners, at the time the law was enacted, adopted a provision to allow those family members already in position to be "grandfathered" in, but the elected official has to fill out paperwork and turn it in to the county clerk's office to retain the family member.

A number of county department heads or elected officials have turned in the necessary paperwork to allow relatives to continue to work for them.

The law does not ban relatives from working with one another, but no one can directly supervise a relative.

In other business Monday, the board voted to change the water treatment method in county buildings in the hopes of cutting costs. The approved Freije treatment no-salt system will cost $39,500, which could be made up in three years, according Dean T. Freije, chief sales officer.

Currently, all of the domestic water is being treated with salt softeners except for the courthouse. The salt softeners require salt to operate as well as ongoing maintenance. The county spends approximately $11,000 per year on salt, Danny Spencer, maintenance director said, mainly at the Justice Center where 40 to 50 bags of salt are needed each month.

Frejie, who examined the county's system with Spencer with the approval of the commissioners, said the water heaters, boilers, piping, pumps, plumbing fixtures, mixing vales and other water handling equipment are experiencing the build up of scale.

The new system, if the funding is approved by the county council, will require no on-going maintenance, buying or hauling salt, regeneration or wasting of water or corrosion in piping. It will actually improve piping by eliminating existing scale build-up.

Commissioner Jim Klinstiver said the system will also help the environment because salt will not discharge into the local streams.

"It's as green as it gets," Frejie said.

Spencer said he thinks the new system will save the county quite a bit of money.

The board also appointed Wayne Gettelfinger to the Property Tax Board of Appeals to join Larry Schickels and Nina Faith. It also changed the board from five members to three because so few people qualify to sit on the board.

Twitter: @rossschulz

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