Grundy County Administrator Chris Wittkamp was hired about three months ago at part-time hours. Thursday, those hours were increased to full time.
The Grundy County Personnel Committee approved making her job full-time, effective immediately, said Vicki Geiger, chairwoman of the committee Friday. The committee approved this 6 to 1, with member Millie Dyer voting no. Dyer could not be contacted by press time.
“I’m very excited. It gives me an opportunity to work more with the people within the county, as well as the board,” said Wittkamp Friday. “I think it’s a really important aspect for county growth and I’m really thrilled to be on full time.”
The action does not have to go to the full county board, said board chairman Ron Severson Friday, because Wittkamp was not given a contract.
“This could be done because she was not offered a contract. All contracts have to go to the full board,” he said. “We have the money in the budget. Dan (Duffy, previous administrator) had a three year, Shawn (Hamilton, previous administrator) had a one year. Chris is an at-will employee. That basically says someone can leave at anytime.”
With the increase in hours, Wittkamp will be making about $71,000, plus Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund benefits. Overall, it’s about a $34,000 increase for the county to pay, said Severson.
The money for a full-time salary was already budgeted since that was what was designated when the county began searching for an administrator after Hamilton left.
Geiger said the duties being asked of Wittkamp required her to be bumped up to full time.
“We put together a job description when we were in the interview process,” she said. “We hoped to accomplish it at part time, but with all of the recent issues and trying to keep the budget on track, it needs to be full time.”
When Wittkamp joined the county part time, board secretary Sandy Pommier was made an administrative assistant, which came with a $6,000 raise, to assist Wittkamp and Severson. The idea then was that between Wittkamp, Pommeir, Severson and full-time human resources director Dan Hoppe, they would work as a team to handle the administrative duties.
“My plan always was Sandy could be an administrative assistant and retain her (secretary) duties, have a part-time HR person and a part-time CFO (Wittkamp), but they chose to go with a full-time HR person and now a full-time administrator,” said Severson.
The team format was supposed to save the county money by not hiring a full-time administrator, he said. Severson did not get a vote on making Wittkamp full time, but he did not support it.
“It has nothing to do with the personalities. We’ve got some really great people. Sandy, Dan and Chris are all really great people,” said Severson.
“I just look at the budget numbers and it’s tough . . . we would have saved a lot of money if we had gone the other way.”
Board member Teryl Lundeen, who is not on the Personnel Committee, agrees with Severson and spoke to the committee about what other counties in the state do.
“It’s not about likes or dislikes. It’s about what is the right thing for Grundy County,” she said Friday.
She said of eight counties in the state that are a similar size to Grundy, not one had an administrator and an HR person. Four of the eight give complete responsibility to the board members and two of the counties had one person holding both the administrator and HR positions.
“I would have liked to see it come to the full board for discussion,” said Lundeen. “My goal is to keep the dollars and cents down. I’m trying desperately to not have our taxes raised or for people to have to get laid off.”
She and Severson both said they have concerns with the local equalized assessed values decreasing for property taxes and the point-of-sale issues in the state supreme court right now that could affect Grundy businesses and, therefore, the county’s revenue.
Geiger said Wittkamp was made full time in order to help the county save more money. In her time, Wittkamp has found about $250,000 in savings while going through the budget. At full time, she could double that, said Geiger.
“I think we have a chance to save a lot more money than we will be spending,” she said. “And if it doesn’t work, there is nothing wrong with evaluating and maybe making some changes.”
The problem comes when something doesn’t work and no one does anything to change it, she continued.
Pommier has also been reviewing the budget and has found hundreds of thousands being budgeted incorrectly, said Geiger. Therefore, Pommier will continue in her administrative assistant position despite Wittkamp being made full time
The county has numerous issues to overcome still and all of the team is needed to do so, said Geiger. She referred to financial issues with missing money in the health department and some county departments giving un-approved bonuses from unspent money in non-salary line items.
These issues have caused a low morale for county employees, said Geiger, and Wittkamp will take this on, as well as working on the budget.