Penny Miller, Chair
Justice Mary Maring
Judge Mikal Simonson
Judge Bruce Bohlman
Judge Lawrence Jahnke
Chair called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m. and immediately drew the board's attention to the minutes of the August 27, 1999 meeting. Motion was made by Judge Jahnke, seconded by Rita Hanneson to approve the minutes as drafted. The motion unanimously carried.
Chair Miller directed the members attention to the three job descriptions before the board: Programmer Analyst I, Programmer Analyst II and Programmer Analyst III. Carla Kolling explained that Kurt Schmidt, Director of Technology, revised the descriptions in order that they more properly reflect the responsibilities of the position and said that the grammatical changes suggested at the last meeting were incorporated into the job descriptions. Members questioned the reason language relating to the ability to move 50 pounds from one location to another was removed as an essential job function. Carla explained that programmer analysts do not transport hardware and that the majority of their work is done at their computer terminal. Therefore, that ability would not be an essential function for that position. Motion was made by Judge Bohlman, seconded by Judge Jahnke that the three job descriptions be approved as presented. The motion unanimously carried.
Revised Policy 118 - Filling Vacancies
Chair Miller directed the members attention to Policy 118 - Filling Vacancies. She explained that at the last meeting members questioned whether or not additional positions should be included as being exempt from veterans preference requirement. Carla Kolling explained that she visited with Greg Wallace, the author of the policy, to determine the basis for including only certain job classifications. She said that those positions that work directly for and have a one-on-one relationship with an elected official were listed as exempt. Chair Miller questioned whether administrative assistant should be included due to the fact that they have somewhat replaced district court administrators and whether director positions, such as the director of technology and the director of human resources and development, should be included. Members expressed concern over including the directors, however, supported inclusion of the administrative assistant because the rationale for its inclusion would be the same as that of the district court administrator. Greg explained that when the policy was being drafted he contacted Central Personnel and they put him in contact with the individual that works with veteran's preference. It was with their assistance that those job classifications were identified as being exempt from veteran's preference. Judge Bohlman expressed concern about exempting any job classification that may be remotely in question for fear of a future lawsuit. Judge Simonson questioned whether a secretary II position could be exempt. It was the general consensus that individual exceptions would have to be made for each because within that classification many secretary II's do not serve as a private secretary to the judge. A motion was made by Judge Jahnke, seconded by Justice Maring to leave the list as is and adopt the policy with the grammatical and stylist changes suggested. The motion unanimously carried.
Revised Policy 115R, Employee Discipline
Carla Kolling explained that the revised policy adds the assistant state court administrator for trial courts to the list of job classifications exempt from the employee discipline policy because of their at will employment status. She said the policy as it currently stands includes only the state court administrator as being exempt. Chair Miller suggested changing the language to read that the policy shall be applicable to all classified employees. The effect would be to exclude law clerks from the policy.
Greg commented that a means of disciplining an employee that has been practiced in the past, but that is not reflected in this policy, is the withholding of step increases and merit raises. This has been used, in juvenile court, as a means to discipline court officers for inappropriate behavior as relates to the treatment of parents or the release of information. Judge Bohlman commented that he did not believe that the withholding of a step increase should be included as part of a disciplinary action. After discussion and review of the implementation guidelines for the step increases, the members chose not to expand the types of disciplinary measures at this time. The guidelines provide for step increases to be withheld if performance is unsatisfactory. A motion was made by Judge Bohlman, seconded by Judge Simonson to adopt the policy with the suggested change in paragraph A. which states "This policy shall be applicable to all classified employees." The motion unanimously carried.
Request for Paygrade Adjustment - Dennis Herbeck
Chair drew members attention to the packet of information containing letters from Dennis Herbeck requesting a paygrade adjustment and those responses from Greg Wallace, former personnel director, outlining the historical nature of the events leading up to Mr. Herbeck's current request. Judge Jahnke informed the members that in addition to the materials already in the members possession, Judge Smith had responded to Mr. Wallace's August 5 letter stating that he was unaware of any documentation that may have reflected that it was his voluntary decision to provide Mr. Herbeck with a 4% raise rather than awarding him the full 10% as may have been permitted under current policy, and that in his opinion he would be in favor of awarding Mr. Herbeck a salary adjustment if it were before him today. Carla Kolling explained that Mr. Herbeck's request came as a result of a salary decision that was made prior to the implementation of the pay and step system. In 1990 Mr. Herbeck was promoted to Director of Juvenile Court. At that time the presiding judge had the opportunity to award up to a 10% salary increase. However, the presiding judge chose to award a 4% increase. The ripple effect of that decision ultimately had an effect on Mr. Herbeck's current salary. Mr. Herbeck believes that he should have received the full 10% increase. Had he been awarded the full 10%, his salary today would have been more in line with that of the other individuals holding the same position in other districts. Carla explained that the records in the State Court Administrator's Office reflect that Mr. Herbeck was paid and received all steps due him as provided for under the pay and step system.
Judge Jahnke inquired whether there was a grievance policy in place at the time Mr. Herbeck received the 4% increase. Mr. Wallace stated that he was unsure, however, he reiterated that the records did not reflect any documentation suggesting that Mr. Herbeck should receive any amount over and above the 4% he received and that the increase Mr. Herbeck received was within the authority of the presiding judge.
Members discussed the need for our system to address those employees who have reached the top of their range and are no longer eligible for step increases. It is estimated that 25% of the employees will be at the top of their paygrade at the end of the next biennium.
A motion was made by Judge Simonson, seconded by Justice Maring that Mr. Herbeck's request for a pay adjustment be denied. The motion carried unanimously.
A motion was made by Judge Bohlman, seconded by Rita Hanneson that the board consider whether a policy that provides the authority for the board to recommend equity adjustments on a case by case basis is needed or appropriate; that a plan be developed that would address the salaries of those employees who are at the top of their paygrade and no longer receive step increases and that the paygrade and job descriptions for the juvenile court be reviewed. The motion carried unanimously.
A motion was made by Justice Maring, seconded by Judge Jahnke that steps be undertaken to begin the process of developing a systematic approach to periodically review the classified job descriptions and conducting market analysis and that Bob Bjorklund be contracted with to help the board facilitate the process assuming funding permits. The motion unanimously carried.
Juvenile Court Staffing Standards
Chair Miller asked Greg Wallace to provide an overview of the Juvenile Court Staffing Standards. Greg explained that this project had originally been assigned to the District Court Policy Board and the Juvenile Policy Board by the Supreme Court. In December of 1998 staffing standards were drafted and provided to the Supreme Court based on the traditional method of probation. Recognizing the fact that the juvenile court was moving in the direction of accountability based probation, the need to develop staffing standards based on that method was needed. He explained that under balanced and restorative justice, courts become much more involved with the victim and the community. A focus is placed on providing meaningful community service. As a result of the increased involvement, the standards reflect an equivalent of an 8.7 increase in full-time employees. Greg informed the members that although the standards reflect a need to increase employees by 8.7, many of those services needed to be provided by additional employees can be contracted to outside sources. By using outside services, the number of additional employees could possibly be reduced to 2-3. Members inquired how the number of employees needed will be determined. Greg explained that by December 31, 1999 each district will have developed a plan that would encompass the type of services available in their community and the manner in which they will use reinvestment dollars to purchase those services under balanced and restorative justice. Ultimately, each district will know, based on that information, the number of employees they will need. Justice Maring inquired why the percent of time spent on formal hearings in the East Central Judicial District is so much lower than other areas of the state. Greg explained that the East Central processes cases formally far more than anyone else, but the hearings are brief with very little testimony. The process is very streamlined. Members inquired whether these standards were developed for the purpose of assisting in future hiring decisions. Greg stated that when the Supreme Court requested that staffing standards be developed, it was with the intent that they would be used as a guideline and information source to fill vacancies and the request for new employees.
Greg informed the members that the Juvenile Policy Board accepted the standards recognizing that they were not complete and recommended that they be forwarded to the Supreme Court.
A motion was made by Justice Maring, seconded by Judge Jahnke to accept and forward to the Supreme Court the North Dakota Juvenile Court Staffing Standards. The motion unanimously carried.
Chair Miller welcomed Dorothy Howard, Kay Braget, Paulette Reule, and Ted Gladden to the meeting.
Leave Policy 102
Chair Miller drew members attention to Leave Policy 102. Carla Kolling explained that the revisions to this policy are in response to the clerks of district court becoming state employees. She said that most elected clerks were not provided a pool of annual or sick leave from which to draw from while serving in their capacity of clerk of district court. Therefore, upon becoming state employees, clerks of district who do not have a bank of annual or sick leave hours to carry over from the county, would not have a bank of annual or sick leave hours to draw from. Carla explained that her proposal would provide clerks of district court becoming state employees a bank of 80 hours of vacation and 80 hours of sick leave on their first day of employment. Further an additional 176-hour bank of accumulated sick leave would be available with certification by the employee's doctor in the event of a major illness requiring hospitalization or extended recuperation. She explained that this 176-hour bank would not be included in the calculation of any pay upon retirement or termination and that any sick leave used would be used first from the currently accruing balance, and only upon the exhaustion of the balance from the 176-hour bank. Carla said that those numbers were arrived from researching other states who have experienced similar situations. For example, the State of Minnesota, when the judiciary brought their court reporters into the system, who were formerly county employees receiving no designated amount of annual or sick leave, they provided them a bank of 80 hours of annual and 80 hours of sick leave. However, the benefit had a sunset clause attached which went into effect three years after implementation. Members inquired whether there is a cap on the amount of annual and sick leave a county employee could bring with them. Carla explained that sick leave is unlimited and a cap of 240 hours is set on annual leave.
Chair Miller invited the clerks to respond to the proposal. Paulette Reule explained that in Stark County they are eligible for two weeks the first ten years then after ten years they receive three weeks. Dorothy Howard said that in Cass County employees receive one day of vacation per month, after five years it goes to a day and a half then after 15 years it goes to two days a month. Ted Gladden inquired whether consideration should not be given to clerks who were employed with the city court. Dorothy said that considering the number of years she has with the county, she felt the numbers were inadequate and that perhaps there should be a two-tiered plan. A certain number for those clerks with fewer years of service and another for those who have many years of experience. Judge Simonson suggested 80 hours for those clerks who have 0-9 years of experience and 160 hours for those with 10 or more years. The members discussed whether clerks leaving the system within the first year of employment should be entitled to receive the bank of annual and sick leave provided to them. The general consensus is that they should be vested one year prior to being able to receive payment for the annual and sick leave balances.
A motion was made by Rita Hanneson, seconded by Judge Simonson that a clerk must be employed with the judiciary one year in order to receive full payment for the bank of hours provided to them at the time of employment. The motion passed unanimously.
The members of the board suggested changing the language in Paragraph B(3)(a) in order that the policy provides credit for years in state government, county court and clerk of district courts office. Carla will rewrite that paragraph and present it at the November meeting.
A motion was made by Judge Simonson, seconded by Judge Bohlman that the proposed policy be amended to reflect that 80 hours of annual leave and 80 hours of sick leave be provided to clerks of court with 0 through 9 years of experience and 160 hours of annual and 160 hours of sick leave to clerks of court with more than nine years of experience. The motion passed unanimously.
Clerk of District Court - Job Descriptions
Chair Miller drew the members attention to the series of proposed job descriptions for the clerk of district court I, II, III, chief deputy, and deputy clerk of district court I, II. Dorothy Howard explained that it is very difficult to prepare a job description without knowing how the chain of command will be. She said if the presiding judge will be the appointing authority, it may be easier to take their existing job descriptions and modify them. Paulette Reule inquired why we needed three different clerk of district court job descriptions. Carla Kolling explained that when we go through the process of determining where a position (job description) should be placed within our classification system, the job description and job analysis questionnaire go through a series of steps, one being the assignment of points to various factors consisting of knowledge and education requirements; work experience; scope of supervisor or managerial responsibilities; development and implementation of policies; internal and external relations; analytical requirements; importance and impact of analytical assignments; responsibilities and follow through to insure task completion; responsibility for the rights and well being of others; demand for mental concentration and physical demands. Certain factors such as dealing with managerial responsibilities assign points based on the number of staff the position supervises. The more points assigned to the position the higher the paygrade. Therefore, different level of job classifications may be needed. Ted Gladden agreed with Dorothy's comment concerning the structure of the system. He said its very difficult to prepare job descriptions without knowing how the system will operate however, you cannot hold up the system waiting for a decision to be made because it will not be happening soon.
The general consensus of the members was that we have to proceed with the process and create job descriptions based on what we know. Members therefore agreed that we need to refine the job duties of the clerk and include them in a job description that contains less detail. It was decided that a small group of clerks consisting, in part, of Dorothy Howard, Kay Braget and Paulette Reule will work with their staff in developing their own job descriptions that mirror the position descriptions in the judicial classification plan. The job descriptions will then be reviewed on November 5 with members of the working committee, Judge Bohlman, any other members of the board who can attend and Carla Kolling where final job descriptions will be developed. Carla will contact three other clerks to work with the group.
Carla explained that in order to assign paygrades to the various positions, it is necessary to review the responsibilities of those positions. In order to do that it will be necessary for the six clerks agreeing to serve on the small working committee and their staff to complete job analysis questionnaires. She explained that the questionnaires together with the job descriptions will be sent to the consultant for review and paygrade assignment.
Carla will forward copies of the job descriptions for the clerk and deputy clerk of supreme court, secretary I, II, and administrative assistant positions to the clerks for their use in drafting their job descriptions along with the job analysis questionnaires.
The board's next scheduled meeting would be Monday, November 22, 1999.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned.
Carla Kolling, Staff