Commissioners deny merit pay claim

Lyon County Commissioners last week officially denied a claim filed against the County asking for a 2.5 percent merit pay increase for certain non-Association employees in fiscal year 2013.

The complaint was filed on behalf of the employees by Lyon County District Attorney Robert Auer and Sheriff Alan Veil through the private law office of plaintiff Assistant District Attorney Mark Krueger. The plaintiff’s action was based on NRS 244.210.

Commission Chair Chuck Roberts said the County’s private legal counsel advised the board during a closed session prior to the vote the demand presented to the Comptroller on the subject of the agenda item is questionably valid as it was brought by the District Attorney on behalf of his office and others, a demand that is prohibited by NRS 244.235 and the District Attorney’s statute 252.180.

The motion, offered by Commissioner Ray Fierro, was approved with a 3-1 vote.  Commissioner Vida Keller voted in opposition.  Commissioner Joe Mortensen was absent.

The motion:

“As I hope it is the desire and consensus of the board to get this matter resolved and openly move forward, I move, without waiving any right of the board or county to object to the validity of the demand made on the Comptroller in a legal action that has been filed in District Court, to uphold the Comptrollers refusal to deny the demand made by the District Attorney for merit pay for various employee claimants with the office of the District Attorney, Sheriff, Dayton Justice Court and Walker River Justice Court.”

The dispute arose from a July 19, 2012 vote by the Lyon County Board of Commissioners to freeze a 2.5 percent merit pay increase for non-union employees.  The formal complaint was then filed against the Board of Commissioners, County Manager and County Comptroller, charging the July 19 vote was contrary to state and county policies. The basis of their complaint is the BOC included funding for the merit increases within the 2012-13 fiscal year final budget submitted to the State Department of Taxation.

Considering negotiations had not been finalized prior to the required submittal of the budget and the beginning of the 2012-13 fiscal year, the County Commissioners, with the support of County Manager Jeff Page and County Comptroller Josh Foli, set aside funding in the 2012-13 budget to cover potential costs upon settlement of the Employees Association and Sheriff’s Employees Association contract negotiations. When final agreements were reached, the Employee’s Association decided to forego the 2.5 percent merit increase. The Sheriff’s Employees Association pushed for and received the 2.5 percent merit increase.

Since the inception of employee associations in Lyon County over 30 years ago, non-association personnel have been granted the same benefits/lack of benefits that the Employees Association contract granted – regardless of what the Sheriff’s Employees Association received.

Following the filing of the Complaint, the Board of Commissioners on August 16 authorized County Manager Page to hire an attorney. The County has hired Madelyn Shipman of Laxalt – Nomura. Her contract rates are $200.00/hour for her; $175.00/hour for an assistant attorney (if needed); and, $100.00/hour for a paralegal (if needed).

The full complaint may be accessed through the following link:

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/57159315/NewsDesk%20-%20Merit%20Lawsuit%20%281%29%20%281%29.pdf