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Health administrator’s pay, job description questioned

A county department head wants to discuss her job description and possibly get a pay increase. The issue is bringing light to a process the Harrison County Council is considering changing.
Carrie Herthel was named the Harrison County Health Dept. administrator last year. She succeeded Tony Combs, who resigned to take a position with the Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District.
Herthel has filed a job classification review form with a three-person committee, called the job classification and compensation committee, made up of councilors Kyle Nix, Donnie Hussung and Holli Castetter. The review will include Herthel’s job description and the description of the county’s public health nurse.
The council, during its meeting Monday night, said during a 50-minute discussion about the issue that Herthel is finding it difficult to hire the county’s next public health nurse, possibly due to the compensation the county is offering to a candidate.
The two health department positions are paid the same, which has Herthel wanting her compensation to also be reviewed.
‘There (are) some hats she’s wearing as administrator that she doesn’t necessarily feel like the previous administrator wore,’ Nix said to the council.
Castetter, the council chair, said that could happen because the state can mandate what type of work local health departments have to do. She added Herthel sent roughly a six-page email describing the work the state now requires of her and her department.
Castetter brought up a process the county uses to work through these types of issues. Some members of the council didn’t know the process existed. Castetter said she didn’t know about it until she was placed on the committee earlier this year.
‘Nobody knew about that until tonight,’ Councilwoman Jennie Capelle said.
The county does have access to a professional human services consulting firm that can evaluate the job description, compare it others in the state and determine if the work should come with extra pay or other benefits.
How the process is laid out, the three-member committee can approve spending money for the evaluation without getting approval from the entire council, which takes at least four votes.
‘You’ve got three people approving to spend money, whether it be in a billable service they’re providing or not, and you’ve got not even a majority of us approving money being spent,’ Councilman Brad Wiseman said.
The process ends with the county council determining if the employee should see a change in compensation, after looking at the evaluation and hearing from the department head.
Castetter said elected officials, department heads and county employees could bring up the same request to have their compensation reviewed.
Councilman Gary Byrne said he thought a department head should bring up the issue to the Harrison County Board of Commissioners.
Castetter said it’s the commissioners who hire department heads in the county.
‘I really like our process,’ Nix said. ‘I just wish we had more public hearings where we could hear it and then put it into committee.’
He added he thought conversations regarding salaries should be discussed publicly since those numbers are made public already.
The three-member committee was scheduled to meet with Herthel last night (Tuesday) to discuss her duties and compensation.
The council voted to allow the committee to send the evaluation request, if they believe it needs to be done, to the consulting firm, and the council collectively will revisit the process in the future.
In other county business, the council is considering $375,000 in vehicles and equipment for the county highway department.
County engineer Kevin Russel said he and his staff had cut down the request during the last couple months. He said the department’s first list had the cost close to $600,000.
The county council’s next meeting will be Monday, May 13, at 7 p.m. at the Government Center.