November 22, 2014

Partly cloudy

Lorain County commissioners to notify departments of policy changes

ELYRIA — The Lorain County commissioners said Friday they will likely begin notifying other county departments about personnel policy changes they implement and create an electronic version of their personnel policy handbook.

The move comes after county Auditor Craig Snodgrass complained that he was never given a copy of changes made earlier this year to policies governing how employees cash out their unused sick time when they leave their jobs.

Snodgrass has said he never saw the policy, updated earlier this year, until Wednesday morning.

Because he didn’t have the policy Snodgrass has said didn’t know that his predecessor, Mark Stewart, was entitled to cash out only 250 hours of unused sick time left over from his time as county employee before he became auditor in 1995.

Instead, Snodgrass allowed Stewart to cash out 1,000 of the 1,208.24 hours Stewart had in his sick leave bank at a rate of $18.08 an hour after Stewart worked four hours reviewing case files for the county Board of Revision on a Saturday in April.

But county officials have said that Snodgrass, who didn’t return a call seeking comment Friday, should have known not to pay out more than 250 hours because the commissioners implemented the cap in 2005 for employees who started with the county after Nov. 15, 2005. Assistant County Prosecutor Gerald Innes has said Stewart was considered a new hire under county rules and subject to the 250-hour sick time payout.

Snodgrass has said Stewart has agreed to repay the county for the 750 hours of sick time he improperly received, which works out to $13,560.

Commissioner Lori Kokoski said she doesn’t mind improving the notification policy, but doesn’t think Snodgrass’ argument that he didn’t have the most recent policy update absolves him from knowing about the earlier rules, which he did have.

“It doesn’t matter,” Kokoski said. “I think they’re trying to deflect the situation so they don’t look so bad, but I’m sorry, they look bad.”

Snodgrass initially denied that Stewart had worked for him when asked in August and county Treasurer Dan Talarek has said Snodgrass asked him to hire Stewart to work for him earlier this year.

Snodgrass has said he was joking when he asked Talarek to hire Stewart and offered to pay his former boss’ wages out of funds controlled by the auditor’s office.

Theresa Upton, who serves as the commissioner’s clerk, said she doesn’t routinely send out commissioners’ resolutions to other county departments unless it’s something that a particular department has requested. But she noted that the commissioners’ agenda is available online and she provides copies of resolutions to anyone who asks for them.

Upton also said that she sends out the weekly agenda via either fax or email to anyone who requests it. Snodgrass’ office has never asked to receive an agenda, she said.

County Administrator Jim Cordes said while it’s not a requirement that departments run by other elected county officials follow all of the policies the commissioners put in place, the 250-hour cap is one that does apply across county government.

Commissioner Ted Kalo also said that while most county departments and elected officials send a representative to attend commissioners’ meetings, it’s rare to see someone from the auditor’s office.

Kalo said he has no problem making the commissioners’ policies more accessible.

“We’ll do it without a doubt,” he said of the changes that were first proposed by Innes this week.

Innes said other departments have also told him they are unaware of some changes made by the commissioners.

“Any time there’s a problem created by lack of communication I think that communication should be improved,” he said.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or

  • oldruss

    For all of Snodgrass’s whining that he “didn’t get the memo”, let’s remember what the legal maxim says: “Ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it.” His and Stewart’s dog and pony show of hiring Stewart for four hours of work so Snodgrass could (illegally) pay Stewart for 1000 hours of unused sick time is right up there with Jimmy Dimora’s and Frank Russo’s capers in Cuyahoga County, and we all know where those two are now today.

    Whe do the County Commissioners, Kalo, Kokoski, and Williams (Betty Blair before Williams) continue to allow county employees to accumulate sick time and vacation time, etc.? Workers in the private sector, those not leeching off the taxpayers, sure don’t get those kinds of perks.

    • Denise Caruloff

      THE PASSING OF THE BUCK…no one ever will accept accountability. I am so sick of the behind the door bs…if brad didn’t bring this to light…would we even know about this. You’re done Craig…step up and be a man…and admit…not make an excuse…we’re tired of excuses in this city/county! Wonder what the next headlines will be.

    • Elaine Howser Seguin

      Mr. Snodgrass likely owes his entire career to the political favor system. He should have had the courage to advocate on behalf of the taxpayers that he serves but when faced with corruption or honesty he chose corruption. The fact that he has lied to the paper several times only makes this more troubling. Craig Miller did time and received professional discipline for doing something very similar. I guess the difference is that he was part of a Republican administration in a Democrat County. It is a sad day for Lorain County. This was posted by Phil Seguin not Elaine Seguin.

  • KZ14

    Again too much government and too many benefits that the normal working person doesn’t receive.

  • GreatRedeemer

    I want to know about these private funds that sick pay is paid from.
    It distorts the wage and benefit funds allocated in the general fund reported to taxpayers via CAFR.
    I for one demand an accounting of these funds and what they are used for
    I’m guessing that had the HR department for the county processed this and the funding come up by the commissioners this 1000 hour deal would not have been the case. This whole thing reeks from the private funds to the policy and needs to be audited and investigated.

  • Suzan Smith

    Why would you (County Commissioners) write or make policy changes and NOT be certain that each and every department be notified? Are you not responsible for these departments and their employees? Seems to me that the “buck” stops at Williams and Team K.

  • stillsleepyeyes

    This head line should read: Commissioner’s try to cover their a** while trying to pass a tax increase………………………