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County Board continues to iron out hiring freeze changes

GENEVA – With concern lingering over ambiguity, the County Board will take a few more weeks to iron out the details of language that would change its hiring rules.

Wednesday, the Kane County Finance Committee set aside a measure that would effectively rewrite the 5-year-old hiring freeze policy.

The County Board began reviewing the hiring freeze rules in recent weeks after they came under scrutiny from board members after the hiring of a political ally of Chairman Chris Lauzen to work in animal control.

The freeze had been in place since the onset of the Great Recession in 2008 to prevent county departments under the board’s oversight from increasing their staffs amid a time of stagnant revenue.

Last week, County Board members – with the input of county human resources staff – introduced changes to the hiring policies.

Under the proposal, county department heads would be permitted to hire, without formal board approval, to fill vacancies in pre-existing positions at salaries that are the same or less.

Department heads also would be permitted to hire under “emergency” circumstances, which could include declining revenues, such as those experienced in animal control in recent months and used to justify the quick hire of the billing manager.

Those changes received a positive recommendation last week from the County Board Human Services Committee.

But at the Finance Committee meeting Wednesday, board members wondered whether more changes might be needed.

Finance Committee Chairman John Hoscheit, R-St. Charles, said the county should include a listing of employee positions and salaries to create a “baseline” for head count and salary totals beyond which any hires would need to be reviewed by the County Board.

And County Board member Becky Gillam, R-West Dundee, said the policy revisions and the emergency provisions language left the hiring policy too vague.

“It’s open to interpretation,” Gillam said. “One person’s emergency is not the same as another’s.”

Others on the County Board expressed similar sentiments at the Human Services Committee meeting.

To address the concerns, the committee voted to table the measure until the Finance Committee’s next meeting in late April.

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