The Crawford County Board of Supervisors on January 3 voted to renew a contract with Jack Reed, of Iowa Negotiation & Consulting Services, for a variety of human resources (HR) services.
The board of supervisors first decided to contract with Reed in December 2014; the current service agreement will expire on June 30.
Reed joined the meeting via Zoom and gave an overview of his services.
He noted that his contract allows a county to opt out at the end of the first year if unsatisfied for any reason.
“I’m proud to say I’ve never had a county do that with my company,” Reed said.
In the areas of investigations, research, discipline and discharge as related to county employees, the county has not had an issue that ended up costing money while working with his company, he said.
Workers’ Compensation claims cause counties the most problems; Reed said he monitors such issues and stays in touch with the county’s attorney, and represents the county’s interests if a claim moves forward.
“My company is in the prevention business,” Reed said in regard to employee liability.
He said he works to put things in place to protect the county from claims and lawsuits.
Reed noted that since 2014, Crawford County has not had a claim that had to be settled and pointed out that there is no way to put a cost to that savings.
His company has a person who monitors state and federal law changes and adjustments to court rulings so that information can be shared with client counties.
Iowa Negotiation & Consulting Services also has legal counsel whose advice is shared with counties at no cost.
He said his fee is fixed with no charges for travel and mileage.
Reed provided a comparison of monthly fees his company charges to other counties: Palo Alto and Pocahontas, $1,500; Dickenson and Emmet, $1,250; Osceola, $900; Monona, $750.
He is asking for $650 per month from Crawford County.
Reed said for 2020, his hourly rate worked out to $25.21 per hour; for 2021 it was $19.30 per hour.
The monthly fee is based on services provided over the three years prior to renewal.
In response to a question from Supervisor Craig Dozark, Reed said his team consists of a full-time associate with a lot of experience in HR, an office assistant and another part-time employee.
His company is the only one in Iowa with a full-time HR associate, Reed said.
“So if for some reason you don’t get me, you’re going to get somebody as qualified to do that,” he said.
Greg Miller, Denison City Council member and Crawford County Emergency Management coordinator, said Amy Pieper, HR, payroll & election deputy in the Crawford County Auditor’s Office, deserves some of the credit for doing a good job managing HR for the county and keeping Reed’s rates low.
Supervisor Kyle Schultz said Reed and Pieper are “a good combination.”
Chairman Ty Rosburg asked Pieper if she leans a lot on Reed.
Pieper said she leans on him for issues that are over her head and legal questions.
The county attorney’s office has also used Reed’s services, Rosburg said.
He said he would like to see some of Reed’s informational handouts before taking a vote.
Reed thought the supervisors had received the handouts but they had not.
Schultz said hiring Reed was one of his first acts as a supervisor in his first term; he said he had not heard any complaints and told Reed he appreciates what he has done for the county.
Supervisor Jean Heiden said Reed was “well worth the money.”
Supervisor Dave Muhlbauer asked why the board wouldn’t go ahead and vote on the contract renewal since they already knew Reed’s reputation and history with the county.
Pieper asked if the supervisors could check on the HR services and pricing of Ahlers & Cooney of Des Moines for due diligence.
Heiden suggested that the board could wait to see the handouts from Reed and ask for the same information from Ahlers & Cooney.
Schutz said he would be willing to approve the renewal but wasn’t sure if the other supervisors were comfortable enough to move forward.
Rosburg said he was comfortable but would solicit information from department heads if the board decided to look at more information.
Schultz said he had never heard anyone say that Reed was not doing a good job; he said everyone is appreciative of his services.
He made a motion to approve the renewal.
Heiden pointed out that Pieper is the person who works with Reed the most and was requesting that the county get another option.
“I would like to entertain listening to that,” Heiden said.
Ahlers & Cooney handles the county’s union contract negotiations, Pieper said.
Reed said only about three other people in the state provide HR services to counties; his company serves 11 counties and is concerned with quality over quantity, where others take on as many counties as they can.
He said he has never had a county part with his company after he started providing services; another individual has been fired by eight or nine counties.
His company is not just a resource to be called on; Reed said he is in touch with department heads to monitor issues as time goes by.
At the end of the discussion, the supervisors voted 4-1 to renew the contract with Iowa Negotiation & Consulting Services; Heiden voted against.