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County Board to review hiring freeze

GENEVA – The County Board may revise the county government’s hiring rules or opt to rewrite the policies altogether.

But the County Board at least is poised to talk about the “ambiguities” in the county’s hiring freeze policy that left board members and other county officials confused over which hires need to be reviewed by the County Board.

Wednesday, the County Board Executive Committee voted to ask a different committee to further review the hiring freeze policy, with an eye toward rewriting the policy.

The discussion first arose in February, when County Board members asked questions about which new hirings needed board approval. Those questions followed the hiring in late January of Robert Sauceda, a former County Board candidate and political ally of Chairman Chris Lauzen, as a temporary billing manager in the Kane County Animal Control Department.

That hiring was not submitted to the board for review, as are other temporary, seasonal or part-time hires. Board members wanted to know whether such hires should be subject to the hiring freeze.

That freeze was implemented in 2008 in response to county government financial difficulties tied to the Great Recession. The ordinance also required the County Board to review the policy every six months. However, the board has not yet conducted a single review of the policy since it was enacted.

When the discussion first moved through the county’s various committees, board members sidestepped discussion of the hiring freeze policy’s “ambiguities,” as several board members have described them, focusing instead on the need for a six-month review.

The Executive Committee was asked to “reaffirm” the hiring policy, essentially certifying for the next six months that it had been reviewed. Board members, however, worried that such a reaffirmation would hold the County Board back from having a more in-depth discussion on the policy.

“Why would we reaffirm something that has so many problems in it?” asked County Board member Kurt Kojzarek, R-Elgin.

Board member Mike Donahue, R-Geneva, also worried the discussion had turned from its original purpose.

“If we reaffirm this, does this mean we’re done for six months?” Donahue asked. “Or is there a concerted effort to look at the ambiguities?”

Lauzen suggested the board may want to rewrite the entire policy, noting that the ordinance controlling the freeze is “so full of holes, it’s almost comical.”

“You may want to step back and say, ‘What are the best practices here?’ ” Lauzen said.

The matter is scheduled to return to the County Board Human Services Committee on March 20.

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