LEE COUNTY – Lee County supervisors will now allow department heads to replace employees without coming to the board, a change from previous hiring practices.
At Monday’s Lee County Board of Supervisors, the board moved to allow the change after a lengthy discussion last week to streamline and coordinate the hiring process.
Supervisor Chairman Garry Seyb said he couldn’t really come up with a reason to not allow department heads to work within their budgets and start the rehiring process without supervisor approval.
“I don’t know that we’ve never not allowed them to do that unless there was a hiring freeze on,” Seyb said.
“This holds their ability to get someone on by a week, or two weeks if it’s a holiday. If there’s not a hiring freeze, I’m not sure there should be anything precluding them from hiring the replacement.”
Lee County Human Resources Director Kim Spear said currently department heads have to come to supervisors twice – once to get permission to hire the replacement and another to approve the hire.
Supervisor Tom Schulz said the second request should still come to the board to allow the board to approve the pay structure.
“That’s a necessary step for us to approve the salary,” he said.
Seyb agreed that the final approval was necessary.
“That gives us oversight to see they’ve been hired. But rather than have it come to us twice to approve the hiring, and then the hire, I guess I couldn’t come up with an answer for having to do that,” he said.
“We’re artificially, in my mind, making them do another step. I haven’t seen a time in the last two or three years where we’ve said no to a replacement.”
He said department heads should be allowed to determine if they want to replace someone depending on staff demands and budgets.
In an unrelated issue, the board heard an update on the ongoing Danville Telecom broadband project in Lee County.
Danville Telecom said they will now not be seeking grant reimbursement for their costs on the project. Project bids came in substantially over the engineering estimates for the work and the group reset the project earlier this year. Under the revised project, grant funds would have been used to build the redundancy loop near Keokuk and the county’s $1.9 million contribution from American Rescue Plan Act funds would be used to run fiber to approximately 125 underserved homes in the Wever area.
Since that time the state’s Office of Chief Information Officer has reset the grant funding to represent the scaled back unserved/underserved homes in the county, reducing the grant to around $500,000 from $3.5 million.
Danville Telecom CEO Tim Fencl told officials at a meeting last week that the compliances required in the grant funds would not make the grant worth pursuing because Danville could do the work with economies of scale cheaper than the state’s grant would require. So the telecommunications company is declining the grant funds.
In other action, Supervisor Tom Schulz said he will be holding a town hall at the north Lee County Administration building’s Supervisor room starting at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday and the meeting is open to the public.
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