St. Clair County Board OKs $5,000 for employee drug testing

News-DemocratOctober 28, 2013 

The St. Clair County Board has approved a nearly $5,000 contract with a medical company to test employees for illegal drug use as part of its recently expanded drug testing program.

County Board members OK'd expanding the drug testing policy in September to include more employees and elected officials. Elected officials, though, may choose to remove themselves from the drug-testing process.

On Monday, the board hired Midwest Occupational Medicine, based in Wood River and Belleville, to administer the program. St. Clair County Human Resources Director Frank Bergman said the company handles drug testing at many government agencies.

"They were the most reputable and cost efficient that we could find," Bergman said.

While public safety and highway department employees were already tested for drugs, the new policy includes randomly testing all employees involved with confidential records related to the investigations of deaths, those administering the drug testing program, those with access to drugs or work directly with students.

The county anticipates testing the urine of 115 new and current employees for the county in a year, according to the contract. Should an employee to be found to be using illegal drugs, they may be fired or possibly be offered to receive substance abuse treatment.

The company will charge $42 per test, which seeks traces of the most common illegal drugs in an employee's system. The test intends to determine whether the employee is using cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, opiates (such as heroin) and amphetamines. Amphetamines are a group of synthetic psychoactive drugs.

The expansion of the program follows the death of St. Clair County Judge Joe Christ. Christ died at the hunting lodge of former Circuit Judge Michael Cook. Cook faces federal weapon and drug-related charges and has resigned his judgeship.

In other news, the board approved seeking nearly $60 million in property taxes next year through a tax levy. However, the county regularly abates its levy to a lower amount.

For example, the board reduces its tax levy from $57.1 million to about $32 million in April. The county receives a fraction of property taxes collected from property tax bills. School districts collect the majority of revenue from property tax bills.

Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at dkelley@bnd.com or 618-239-2501.

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