County creates HR, payroll positions

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With two 3-2 votes the Swift County Board of Commissioners will move forward with creating a full-time human resources person as well as a payroll officer/administrative assistant.

While Commissioners Eric Rudningen, District 5-Kerkhoven, Pete Peterson, District 3-south Benson, and Gary Hendrickx, District 1-Appleton, agreed the county needed to add the two positions, Commissioners Ed Pederson, District 2-north Benson, and Joe Fox, District 4-Hegbert Township, disagreed.

It is estimated the HR position would have a starting salary of $53,206. The payroll officer/administrative assistant would have a salary of $35,298, though the position might not be fulltime.

However, only one new position is technically being added. Commissioners had voted last year to hire a HR director in 2017. Also, current Assistant to the Administrator Amanda Ness is likely to fill one of the positions.

In proposing the addition of the human resources position, Administrator Kelsey Baker listed the following benefits:

  1. Staff recruitment and retention. The county could benefit in developing a more comprehensive recruitment and outreach process to find good candidates.
  2. County staff would handle external labor questions so it would not have to pay for outside consultants.
  3. This position would monitor employee benefits and educate the staff on their insurance options.
  4. It moves Human Service Merit System work from the Human Services director to the new HR coordinator. This would take this administrative function from the Human Services director and allow more time to focus on department needs and issues.
  5. Payroll would then be moved to the new positions, which is Payroll Officer/Administrative Assistant. The HR person would backup the payroll office.
    “Human error happens almost every payroll,” Baker said. “There are no checks and balances. I don’t think I can reiterate the checks and balances phrase enough. We do not have that in Swift County. I think to be a government entity we have to have those checks and balances. We have to be transparent with the public,” Baker said. Without a qualified backup the county could be left in a bad situation if the worst would occur, she said.
  6. This adds a position that would also be in charge of the quarterly external/internal monthly newsletters. The person would also be in charge of the board minutes and preparing documents for county board meetings.
  7. This position would create and manage the website and public information, while creating that one message that I would like to see Swift County move towards, Baker recommended.

“I do feel there is a need for someone…” for human resources, Baker told commissioners. Former County Administrator Mike Pogge-Weaver saw there was a need for someone, and recent Interim County Administrator Jan Fransen also saw there was a need, she said.

“Most of the staff don’t understand what we are offering them,” Baker said of the benefit package county employees get. She said she knows that informing them of those benefits is the job of their union representative, but it is also the job of the county.

Commissioner Peterson said he thought Baker had “pretty much hit the nail on the head” when she pointed out the Pogge-Weaver, Fransen, and herself all saw the need for a HR person. These three people have been hired by the county board and trusted to do the administrating of the county.

“Talking with others counties they can’t believe we don’t have a position that does this job,” Peterson said. Swift County has 110 employees.

Peterson then moved to approve creating the HR position. Hendrickx seconded the motion.

So the HR position is going to take away some of the time and responsibilities of the administrator, assistant to the administrator, as well as the human services director? Commissioner Pederson asked.

Baker said she would still be involved with the hiring of employees, but the daily task like insurance and benefits, and educating staff, that would be the HR coordinator’s job.

Ness’s job would be split into one-and-a-half positions. She is currently doing HR work, supporting the work of the administrator and doing payroll....


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