Crawford County Courthouse

The Crawford County Board of Supervisors on December 24 voted 5-0 to renew a relationship with Jack Reed of Iowa Negotiation and Consulting Services, of Ottumwa.

Reed’s current fee is $450 per month. The supervisors agreed to a new three-year term that will include an increase of $50 per month in the first year and an additional increase of $50 per month in the second year.

The county initially hired Reed in 2014.

He visited the supervisors last Tuesday to give a general update of county-related issues and to talk about a renewal of the service agreement with the county, which was set to expire on June 30, 2020.

Reed provided the supervisors with a refresher list of the services that he provides for the fixed annual fee.

The services include evaluating and updating the county employee handbook and policies, safety manual, employment applications, job descriptions and employment practices; providing consulting services for human resources, department heads, employee complaint resolution, discipline and discharge, workers’ compensation claims, employer liabilities, compliance review and training.

He provided an extensive list of services provided in 2019 for the Crawford County Auditor’s Office, Public Health, Conservation, Secondary Roads and the Crawford County Treasurer’s Office.

Reed said he also works with two employment law attorneys for legal opinions at no additional cost to the county.

“I’ve worked for Crawford County for almost six years, now,” he said. “In that period of time, I think we’ve accomplished a lot.”

He said one of the biggest accomplishments was revising the county’s employee handbook, which he said was about as far out of date as it could be.

The handbook was rewritten, amended and then updated again. He has also rewritten more than 50 job descriptions for the county.

The proof is in the pudding, he said.

“In the six years I’ve worked with Crawford County, in the issues I’ve worked with, you’ve never had litigation once, never had a complaint with the state once and no other lawsuit has come out of it,” he said.

Reed said he had been involved with three investigations of sensitive matters, but all were resolved with nothing further taking place.

He noted that he had done a “fair amount of work” with public health, mostly in 2018.

“I called Kim (Fineran) the other day because I hadn’t heard from her for a while,” Reed said.

He told her he hoped that not hearing from her was a good thing – and she told him it was.

Fineran and Lynette Ludwig, Crawford County Home Health, Hospice & Public Health co-administrators, were in attendance at the supervisors meeting.

Ludwig said Reed had been very helpful, particularly with revising job descriptions.

“Kim and I had trouble finding time to revamp job descriptions,” she said.

“That’s what I’m here for,” Reed said. “I think we made some really positive moves in public health. The result is we’re not on the phone much anymore.”

“I think the move to bring Jack on six years ago was a really good strategic move because we don’t have a fulltime human resources person,” said Crawford County Engineer Paul Assman.

Assman said he was far from being an HR expert.

He said he was comfortable with being able to call Reed on the phone for advice on how to handle issues.

“For my office, he’s been a great asset,” Assman said.

Supervisor Dave Muhlbauer asked how handbook changes specific to public health are handled – and if those changes are incorporated in the county handbook.

Reed said that was probably not the case.

“It’s pretty normal for departments such as public health (to have changes) that are specific only to them,” Reed said.

The same is true sometimes for secondary roads, he said.

He said in those cases, he just asks that the auditor’s office be made aware.

Supervisor Cecil Blum noted that only he and Supervisor Eric Skoog are present members of board of supervisors who were on the board when Reed was hired.

He said the board was a little bit hesitant to sign him on at first.

“I will tell you in the last six years you have given us excellent service,” Blum said.

Reed’s services had provided dividends for the county, he said.

Blum said Reed’s rate increase request was very fair.

“Look to us for a testimonial,” Skoog agreed.

Reed said he had taken on four new counties since signing a contract for services with Crawford County, but had recently turned down requests from three other counties.

“I said thanks - but no thanks,” Reed said. “I’m about the quality, not the quantity.”

“I think it has been a beneficial relationship for us,” Blum said.

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