On Tuesday, his last night of service on the county council, Eric Spoonmore called the group’s adoption of a new job classification grid “momentous for Monroe County government.”
The new job grid means an increase in compensation for most county employees.
In his closing remarks, Spoonmore said, “This council has made tremendous progress on how we compensate county employees. And this meeting tonight is perhaps the most striking example of that during my six years as a member of this body.”
Spoonmore added, “For me personally, it’s particularly gratifying to see all this come together at what will be my last meeting.”
Spoonmore resigned from the council effective after Tuesday’s meeting to take over as head of the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, starting the following day, on Dec. 1.
In their remarks during Tuesday’s meeting, department heads and several county electeds supported the adoption of the grid of job classifications and compensation levels. The grid had been recommended by Waggoner, Irwin, Scheele & Associates (WIS) under a contract with the county worth $98,720.
On Tuesday, voices of dissent, about their own compensation level, came from two of the three county commissioners.
President of the board of commissioners, Julie Thomas, reviewed the recent salary history for the commissioners. Last year, the commissioners had requested a raise from $36,000 to $60,133. The county council agreed to a $10,000 increase to $46,000.
On Tuesday, the council approved an increase in 2022 to $48,886, which is about 6 percent higher than last year’s level. The amount is based on a specific tie to the job classification grid.
Thomas thanked councilors for last year’s increase, but said that the council had indicated more would be forthcoming. “In 2020, we received an increase which we’re grateful for. But we were told that was a downpayment,” Thomas said.
Thomas was citing the remarks made at a September 2020 meeting by councilor Geoff McKim, who called the $10,000 increase a “downpayment” on a possibly higher salary in the future.
The salary for commissioners this year was tied to one of the new grid’s job classifications that are designated as PAT (professional, administrative, and technological) at 35 hours a week. Thomas said commissioners should be classified as EXE (executive).
Thomas told councilors: “If you think that our job is a PAT D, I would like to hear about that. That’s not something that I’ve seen discussed in a public meeting.” Thomas continued, “We are the executive and legislative branch for county government. And we should be an EXE A on this grid.” She added, “I will speak up for us because no one else is.”
A position classified as EXE A at 40 hours a week (full time) would be paid $63,960 according to the salary grid. That would be roughly in line with what the commissioners had requested last year.
Thomas told councilors, “We work full time. And we work more than full time when there are emergencies—anything from tornadoes, to events that last, like COVID, for more than 20 months. We have put in a lot of hours because that’s our job. And we love our jobs.”
Thomas said, “But to expect us to not be compensated fairly for more than a full time job is really surprising and really sad. And I would hope that you would reconsider where we’ve been put on the grid.”
Following Thomas was commissioner
Lee Jones , who told councilors, “I was out over the weekend meeting with constituents.” She continued, “It’s part of my job to go out to talk. I don’t mind that. In fact, I love meeting with people. But I also think that this is really a very, very full time job, on par with many of the other elected full time officials.”
Other county elected officials include the assessor, auditor, clerk, surveyor, and treasurer and recorder. They are classified as EXE A on the job grid adopted by the county council.
On Tuesday, the county council did not change the job classification for the commissioners. Their vote on the question of adopting the grid was unanimous.
County recorder Eric Schmitz told councilors he was in full support of the increase for the people who worked in his office. Schmitz said, “I am in an office where I’m there every day, for the most part. They are the people who work in my office. They are there every day, diligently. So I see this, and they’ve earned this.”
Highway director Lisa Ridge pointed to the increases for workers in her department as likely helping future retention of employees. Ridge said, “We’ve had a huge turnover over the last few years. A lot of it due to COVID, a lot of it to people seeking jobs elsewhere for better pay.” She added, “I think this shows appreciation for the county employees and your commitment to the county employees. And I cannot applaud you enough for putting county employees first in 2022.”
Auditor Cathy Smith also called the adoption of the new job grid an investment in the retention of a talented workforce. In the past, Smith said, “We lost lawyers and planners and deputies. We lost all these talented individuals that had workplace knowledge that had institutional knowledge.” Smith continued, “The time is now for the council to…support the employees.” Smith added, “It’s a vote of confidence in employees and it’s a vote of confidence in our county government.”
Spoonmore, who chaired the meeting as president of the council for a final time on Tuesday, said the adoption of the job classifications meant that he had kept a promise. Spoonmore said, “For me personally, this is delivering on a promise that I made in this room, nearly six years ago to the day, in a caucus when I ran for this office.
Spoonmore was selected in a Democratic Party caucus in November 2015 to fill the District 4 seat vacated by Rick Dietz, when he moved out of District 4.
The in-person portion of Tuesday’s hybrid work session was held in the Nat U. Hill Room of the county courthouse.
Spoonmore’s successor will be chosen in a Democratic Party caucus scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 19 at 2 p.m. in the Monroe County Public Library.
The geography of District 4, which Spoonmore represented, did not change as a result of the new election district boundaries adopted by county commissioners at their Wednesday meeting this week.
To balance out the populations of the four county council districts after the 2020 census, commissioners followed the recommendations of a four-person committee, which is labeled Option A on the dynamic mapping tool that was set up by the county’s GIS staff to support the committee’s work.
The scenario adopted by the commissioners left District 4 and District 2 intact. The one change to the county council map is a straight-up township trade between District 1 and District 3.
The first part of the trade calls for Washington Township in the north to go from District 1 to District 3. In exchange, District 1 would get Clear Creek Township in the south.