Illinois Leaks | Edgar County Health Department Special Board Meeting – False Information Confirmed

Edgar Co. (ECWd) –

The Edgar County Health Department Board held a special meeting Friday morning to discuss meeting schedules and administrative salaries. We first exposed the alleged fake documents, illegal compensations and illegal meetings in this article.

During the meeting, Oliver Smith confirmed a record he signed giving a raise to Janet Mason is not accurate and that the action is wrong. The minutes show that the Board of Health never met to discuss or resolve the matter as implied in the letter and this was confirmed at the meeting. More importantly, Janet Mason was NOT an administrator in February 2022, as she stepped down from that position in November 2021, so this is also false information. The claim that her salary will be $118,000.00 retroactive to December 2021 is the third misrepresentation because the board never approved it. Similar false information was found in that entry relating to Monica Dunn.

A recently received document on the matter is even more disturbing, as if fake compensation documents weren’t bad enough.

A retro pay document with the name “Janet” signed at the top, it appears to be further evidence of self-mutilation. The retro pay requested was to be backdated to December 1, 2021 and is a salaried/exempt position, meaning no overtime. The calculations indicated adjusting wages for a certain number of regular hours during the pay periods in question by deducting the hourly wage “rate” already paid and coming up with a new multiplier based on the wage that was backdated.

Although we contend that the entire matter was conducted illegally, we find it highly telling that Mason’s applied retrograde pay was based on an assumed 37.5 hour work week, not the hours actually worked and paid at a lower rate. While we understand that if an individual is a salaried employee, they are supposed to work the designated 37.5 hour work week, payroll records reflect that this was not the case. During the period in question, Mason worked only 60 hours in a two-week pay period, but was compensated as if she had actually worked the full 75 hours.

During the meeting, Smith, in an attempt to justify the pay increase, claimed that administrators were working over 60 hours a weekhowever, numerous payroll records show that this was not the norm, and in fact more often than not they worked less than 60 hours a week.

Board member Scott Ingram questioned the compensation/overtime issue and Dr. Graham opined that the only other option at that time would be to hire another person. Most would agree that it is better to hire someone who will be paid less than an administrator than to pay an administrator’s salary as an overtime rate. We note that the majority of paid overtime during the pandemic was for the two administrators.

Mason opined that the intent all along was to get pay back to what it was before the pandemic. We find these statements most interesting because if this was the sincere intention, why was there such a huge increase in wages behind closed doors?

Edgar County State’s Attorney Tim Gilbert was present for part of the meeting and advised the board on certain issues regarding the Open Meetings Act, as it is clear that past actions by some board members have violated the law.

During public comment, Mason signaled to a board member the number 3, which we assume meant three minutes, and that the person (me) should be cut off from speaking. This assumption is based on her comments when I finished speaking to the board. At the 59:55 minute mark of the video you can see her hand gesture and at the 1:07:47 mark is where she makes her three minute comment, after I finished speaking Mason opined that my comment was long three minutes. Her comments are yet another example of a board official failing to understand that the board is in control of the meeting and the employees have no place to interfere or attempt to perform a board function. If the chairman of the board wishes to cut a speaker, that is his prerogative, provided there is an adopted policy on public comment, which we understand there is not.

Another example of an employee performing a board function is when Mason confirmed that she prepares the board minutes, rather than the board secretary doing them. When I asked who the secretary of the board was, there was no response from the board and it appears that one has not been elected as required by law.

Although COVID is used to excuse much of the abuse uncovered, it appears from comments made during the meeting that some health department officials and at least one board member do not understand that dealing with COVID or another disease is the job itself , which these employees are paid to care for as required by law.

  • 55 ILCS 5/5-25013 (A)7. Within its jurisdiction and professional and technical competence, to investigate the existence of any contagious or infectious disease and to take measures, not inconsistent with the regulations of the State Department of Public Health, to stop the development of the same.
  • (B)1. Initiate and carry out programs and activities of any kind, not inconsistent with law, which may be deemed necessary or desirable to promote and protect the health and in disease control including tuberculosis.

When there is no pandemic, times are great. When there’s a pandemic and they have to actually do the work required by law, it’s not the time to be apologizing for more pay to do the same job they signed up for.

The board agreed that there were several issues to address and would receive assistance from the county’s human resources consultant.

Questions to consider:

  • By defining the actual job descriptions and setting the compensation of the current Administrator, Monica Dunn, and the Financial Officer, Janet Mason, as they currently are, the Administrator is making less than Mason.
  • Determine how to correct illegal payments and their impact on IMRF, Social Security, and workers’ compensation overpayments. If not corrected, taxpayers will pay for increased pensions for the rest of the recipient’s life.
  • Determine the mechanism to recover overpayments to employees by making taxpayers whole.

Below is the video of the meeting.

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