Personnel Policy Board
November 20, 2008Telephone Conference
Members Present: Hon. M. Richard Geiger, Chair; Jerrold Arneson; Hon. Carol Ronning Kapsner; Rodney Olson; Hon. John T. Paulson; Gladys Schmitt, and Ted Smith
Members Absent: Hon. Gail Hagerty
Others Present: Sally Holewa, ex officio; Amy Klein, staff; Renee Barnaby, minutes
Chair Geiger called the special meeting to order at 4:00 p.m. The special meeting was called to consider a request submitted by East Central Judicial District Presiding Judge, Georgia Dawson, for authorization to advertise for a court reporter up to step 11. In October, the Board had a special meeting wherein it granted authorization to advertise up to step 6. The recruitment efforts at step 6 resulted in no qualified applications.
Amy Klein stated Judge Dawson is requesting permission to advertise up to step 11 to increase the ratio of court reporters. She stated the average statewide salary for court reporters in North Dakota is $4,367 per month, which is equivalent to step 9. She also noted that we currently have 20 court reporters in the judicial system of which 70% have 18 to 38 years of judicial service and reside at step 11. She concluded her report by stating it appears this is an issue that needs to be addressed in the very near future.
Sally Holewa said when we looked at advertising up to step 6, it would not have effected many reporters. However, hiring at step 11 will cause compression. She said in the past,we have used a ratio that allowed every three years of outside experience to equal one step.
It was moved by Rod Olson, seconded by Jerrold Arneson, that the Personnel Policy Board approve Judge Dawson's request to advertise for a court reporter and offer up to step 11 and that it be forwarded to the chief justice for his approval.
Rod Olson stated Minnesota's midpoint and maximum salaries are higher than North Dakota's, which makes it difficult to retain employees in Fargo because of the competition right across the river. However, with the current state of affairs in Minnesota, they are not taking applications for any jobs at this time.
The following were listed as possible alternatives:
- Pay grade exception - moving court recorders to a whole different pay grade because of market conditions.
- Hiring a court recorder.
- Identify what cases would be appropriate for reporting vs recording and then hiring a reporter from the private sector to cover a trial.
Gladys Schmitt stated that in Fargo the court recorders do the same work as the as court reporters.
Chair Geiger said one of the differences between a reporter and a recorder is the ability to do realtime. Judge Paulson added the reporter is more portable.
Sally Holewa commented the schools are producing about one-third of what is needed nationally so the problem is going to get worse. She also stated if we hire a reporter at step 11 that would almost be the starting salary for a staff attorney so not only would we cause compression amongst the court reporters but in other pay grades as well. It is her recommendation that we re-advertise up to step 6.
Justice Kapsner suggested the issue be added to the agenda for the next meeting.
A roll call vote was taken. The motion failed 6-1, with Rod Olson voting in favor of the motion. It will be communicated to the chief justice that the Board recommended that he not approve Judge Dawson's request to advertise up to step 11 but that the ECJD be allowed to re-advertise the current vacancy up to step 6.
The next meeting of the Personnel Policy Board will be Friday, December 5, 2008, at 10 a.m.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:25 p.m.