Personnel Policy Board
January 9, 2001
9:00 a.m. - 10:10 a.m.
I. Opening Business:
A. The conference call convened at 9:05 a.m. Members present included Penny Miller, Chair; Justice Mary Muehlen Maring; Judge Lawrence Jahnke; Judge Bruce Bohlman; Judge Mikal Simonson; Rita Hannesson; Dion Ulrich; and Carla Kolling, staff.
II. New Business
A. Carla Kolling presented a summary of the activity leading up to Judge Jahnke's request to hire a court reporter above entry level salary. Carla explained that on August 7, 2000 the Supreme Court authorized the Northeast Central Judicial District to fill the court reporter vacancy caused by the retirement of Audrey Timberman with a court reporter/recorder. The decision as to whether a court reporter or recorder would be recruited was left to the judge-elect. Karen Braaten selected a court reporter. She said that the internal recruitment process began on November 11, 2000 with the external process beginning two weeks later. The external advertising resulted in producing only four qualified applicants.
Carla explained that Judge-elect Braaten and Administrative Assistant Kathy Narlock selected three of the four applicants to interview. She said that the interview process resulted in two satisfactory candidates of which neither expressed interest in accepting the position at the entry level salary of $2508 per month. She explained that Judge Jahnke's request to hire above entry level was received shortly after the interview process. Judge Jahnke requested that the entry level salary be raised to $2800 per month which reflected an amount calculated by Administrative Assistant Kathy Narlock based on her analysis of the local market.
Judge Bohlman inquired whether the new employee's salary would be frozen if hired above entry level. Carla explained that it would be up to the Board to make that decision however, in related situations, the salary would be frozen until the years of service caught up to the salary. She said that the new employee however, would continue to receive cost of living increases.
Rita Hannesson inquired whether or not either candidate would accept the position at entry level. Judge Jahnke indicated that due to the policy, no formal offer was made. However during the interview, both candidates expressed reluctance to accepting the position at the entry level salary.
Judge Jahnke informed the Board that when it became known that Audrey Timberman was leaving, Keithe Nelson contacted Judge Zane Anderson's court recorder to see whether she was interested in moving to Grand Forks to fill the position since the Bowman judgeship had been abolished and she would be losing her job. Mr. Nelson indicated that she had no interest in doing so.
Justice Maring expressed concern over hiring someone above entry level due to the potential problems it may create. Chair Miller expressed concern with the precedence it will set for the future. She stated that the purpose of hiring at entry level is to fund the step system. Furthermore, she was concerned about how this was going to effect the future use of court reporter versus court recorder. Carla explained that the presiding judges requested that there be a moratorium on hiring court reporters. She said this moratorium was in place until November 24, 1999 at which time the Supreme Court repealed the policy. She commented that the issue of the use of court reporter versus court recorder was an issue that needed to addressed by the presiding judges and not by the Board.
Members Judge Simonson and Rita Hannesson had to leave the meeting but both went on record stating that they did not support the hiring of the court reporter above entry level.
Judge Bohlman moved to approve the recommendation to hire the court reporter above entry level. There was no second. Motion failed to pass.
The Board requested Dion to calculate the salary difference between the new employee receiving $2800 immediately then being frozen versus starting out at entry level then moving through the system in a traditional manner. The salary difference was slightly over $7700 over a period of five years in favor of receiving the $2800 the day of employment.
Judge Bohlman moved to offer up to $2800 but then freezing the salary, with the exception of cost of living increases, until her years of service catch up to her salary. The members were reluctant to act on Judge Bohlman's motion.
Judge Jahnke suggested going back to Judge Braaten and Kathy Narlock and request that they consult with both candidates to determine what they would accept as their beginning salary explaining however that their salary would be frozen if they were hired above entry level.
By consensus the Board tabled Judge Bohlman's motion until Judge Braaten and Kathy Narlock have had an opportunity to visit with the two candidates on the starting salary. Justice Maring suggested that the value of the state benefit package be emphasized during the discussions.
The meeting adjourned at 10:10 a.m.
(On January 10, 2001, we received a phone call from Kathy Narlock indicating that one of the candidates would accept the position at entry level salary. There was no need for the Board to take further action on the matter.)
Director of Human Resources & Development