Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Here's what a salary suit looks like

A lot of folks have made a big deal about whether the salary lawsuits that detail staffing levels and salaries that the fee offices file are not transparent enough.

Others, though, say they're less confusing to read than the county budget, which is a zillion pages long and can be found right here.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about – this whole fee office mess – then you can read the original story I wrote about it right smack here.

Anyhoo, most of the fee offices essentially sue the county mayor in Knox County Chancery Court. Typically, the mayor signs off on them. No reason to micromanage, I suppose.

So, as a public service, I'm providing copies of the most recent salary suits filed by the six fee offices – criminal court clerk, circuit court clerk, trustee, registor of deeds, clerk and master, and county clerk.

Note, that each one will be slightly different – not only because the officers draw them up differently – but because I'll show you various stages of the suits.

I wish I could be a little more literate here, but I'm kind of busy.

So, let's start right here with Criminal Court Clerk Joy McCroseky's petition to sue. This is pretty much the first stage and goes immediately to the mayor and the law director.

For Hogan, I have the actual suit he filed in Knox County Chancery Court. Note, that Hogan's suit is extremely detailed compared to the others I'll put up, detailing job descriptions and naming contractors.

The document I have right here for Circuit Court Clerk Cathy Quist is the final judgment. It looks pretty much like the initial salary suit, but some of the legal mumbo-jumbo has been taken out. Additionally, it includes a letter to county Mayor Tim Burchett. Note, the final page - “Exhibit A - lists her deputy clerks and salaries. It includes the staffing levels but no job description. This is one of the issues some commissioners and Burchett have with the suits. They don't feel there's enough so-called “transparency.”

For Register of Deeds Sherry Witt, I've also included the final judgment of her most recent salary suit, signed in October 2010. Additionally, Witt post her salary suits, dating back 2007, on her website right here. Still, that's not going to stop the aforementioned county officials from trying to gain control of her operating budget. Good thing for her she hired local attorney John King to fight it.

County Clerk Foster Arnett doesn't actually file a salary suit. You see all this talk about these suits isn't really necessary, according to county Law Director Joe Jarret. You can also file a “Letter of Agreement Compensation of Employees” instead.

No, this is not the same thing as turning the budget over to the mayor and commission. It's more like a salary suit, but without the lawsuit part. And, yes, the county clerk is the only one of the six fee offices to do it this way.

Check out what Arnett's looks like right here.

Finally, I have a salary suit for Trustee John Duncan III. The example I have for him, however, is an amended judgment. You see, Duncan filed a regular salary suit like his peers.

But, he forgot to give his employees longevity bonuses, which are not necessary, but pretty traditional around some of the fee offices.

So, Duncan had to go back and sue again. I think it was for an extra $3,500. It's not actually mentioned in the suit.

Go figure. (Although it probably doesn't matter since the trustee - along with a couple other fee officers - plans to turn over his budget anyway.)

Anyway, here's the final suit right smack here.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting these, Mike. They all refer to the number of positions within each office, but are they actually staffed at that level? As we learn anytime anyone talks about layoffs, there's a difference between "positions" and "employees."

Mike Donila said...

I'm not sure what positions are unfilled right now. About a month ago, I posted this

I had some numbers for vacancies at the time, but it wasn't for all the offices.