Metro-East News

St. Clair County Board approves correctional officers union contract

Sheriff’s department union members will get 2 percent raises in 2015 and 2016, and a 3 percent increase in 2017.
Sheriff’s department union members will get 2 percent raises in 2015 and 2016, and a 3 percent increase in 2017. BND

St. Clair County Board members on Monday approved a new labor agreement with the Sheriff’s Department correctional officers union.

The three-year contract calls for a 2 percent salary increase for this year, a 2 percent pay increase for 2016, and 3 percent increase for 2017.

Paid holidays will be for 12 hours of pay instead of 8 hours, under the new deal, and the clothing allowance increased to $786 from $286.

“A lot of these are keeping them in parity with the deputies,” said Brian Manion, an attorney working for the county during the negotiations.

Under the contract, all new correctional officers hired after the deal was approved would be unsworn personnel. Currently all correctional officers are sworn officers. The move to unsworn positions is expected save the county money on its pension contributions, Manion said.

New hires would be under the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund pensions system, which requires a smaller employer contribution from the county, instead of the Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Pension system.

Manion estimated once all the correctional officers become unsworn, through attrition, the move could save the county $250,000 a year.

“From the point of view of the county it would be a big cost savings,” Manion said.

The contract includes a one-time $3,000 signing bonus for each correctional officer in the union when the bargaining agreement is executed, according to county documents.

“This is an enticement for the agreement to go forward with the unsworn, because that’s a big change in the status quo,” Manion said.

The union representing the roughly 50 correctional officers has approved the deal, Manion said.

Under the deal, a correctional officer working on probationary period will be paid $39,337 for 2015. An officer with one year on the job, will be paid $49,470.

Sheriff’s Department Major Tom Knapp said the new contract will fit within county budget constraints.

Other items

▪  Residential chickens decision on hold: County Board members postponed a vote on a proposed text amendment to allow chickens in residential areas in the unincorporated areas of the county. Zoning board members have recommended denying the proposal to allow chickens made by Jason and Christina Roedl, Eiler Road residents who live near Belleville.

Leading up to the vote, the Roedls called board members to make their case. They spoke to 25 out of 29 board members, Christina Roedl said.

County officials have expressed concern about having enough manpower to manage a residential chicken program.

Chairman Mark Kern said in 96 percent of unincorporated areas in the county people are allowed to have chickens, but the Roedls live in the 4 percent where chickens aren’t allowed.

“I think it’s important we take a look at the issue,” Kern said. “We need to take a look and see if there’s any way to work with the applicant.”

▪  Road transfer: County Board members approved a transfer of three-quarters of a mile of North Green Mount Road to the city of O’Fallon.

Jeff Taylor, the O’Fallon director of public works, said the city plans to widen the section of road to four lanes, with turn lanes at main cross streets.

A signal also is planned at Cambridge Boulevard to accommodate the new St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.

The city also plans to add green space to future medians, as well as a shared-use trail along the road.

“We’re looking to do something more aesthetically pleasing, a boulevard type setting,” Taylor said. “It’s one of the front doors to the city when people are coming off of (Interstate) 64, onto Green Mount.”

▪  Liability insurance: The county renewed its risk management insurance, which covers workers compensation, general liability and flood, earthquake and mine subsidence damage. The premium is $1.598 million, which is a $26,000 increase from the previous year.

▪  911 system Motorola contract: County Board members approved a 10-year contract with Motorola for $5.28 million to help update the county’s emergency radio system.

When negotiations began on this contract in October of last year, Motorola was asking for $29.5 million over 10 years. Negotiations to switch the cost of preventative maintenance back to Motorola, and the determination of who owned certain equipment, helped bring the cost down, said Herb Simmons, executive director of the Emergency Telephone System Board.

▪  Email software purchase: County Board members approved a purchase of Microsoft Exchange 2016 software and backup software for the county’s email server at a cost of $69,700.

Joseph Bustos: 618-239-2451, @JoeBReporter