County job description vote fails

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 14, 2002

When is a little education too much education?

Answer: When you are a Mower County employee.

Tuesday, the Mower County Board of Commissioners unanimously rejected changing the job description for an office support specialist in the Mower County Correctional Services office that would have required the person holding the job to have a minimum education, including an associate of arts degree.

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Despite the county board personnel committee's recommendation, the effort to change the job description from having a minimum of a high school diploma to an AA degree failed.

David Hillier, 3rd District county commissioner, said it was the personnel committee's recommendation to make the change. Garry Ellingson, 5th District county commissioner, agreed with personnel committee chair Hillier and said it was not a pay grade change.

Richard P. Cummings, 1st District county commissioner, was skeptical. "Why are we reclassifying this one job after we already had a consultant help us reclassify every other county job?" Cummings asked.

Cummings was referring to the consultant, who reviewed all county jobs and made recommendations which the county board accepted to write new job description and otherwise streamline county government human resources jobs and pay grades.

Hillier defended the request of the correctional services department head and human resources director Al Cordes, saying the office support specialist had new data entry demands.

Cummings was still unconvinced. "I really question whether something like that necessitates a change like this," he said.

Ellingson admitted both he and Hillier had the same doubts.

Skepticism also was shown by Ray Tucker, 2nd District county commissioner. "This person has to have a backup in the office for when she is sick or otherwise gone from work for some reason and it's probably a person with only a high school diploma who can do the same work," tucker said.

Hillier said the request was re-evaluated by the department head and that it essentially coincided with what the county's paid consultant recommended.

"There's going to be fallout from doing something like this," cautioned Cummings, "and that is a pay grade change, too. You know it and I know it."

"Are we going to have to go through something like this with all the other departments if we change one job description in one department?" Tucker asked.

Hillier made the motion to change the job description and Ellingson seconded it.

When the vote was taken, Hillier and Ellingson voted for the job description change, but Cummings, Tucker and Len Miller, 4th District county commissioner voted against it, meaning the job description remains as is.

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at