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Wadena County Commission: Stipend approved for on-call services from asst. county attorney

Wadena County commissioners approved an assistant county attorney stipend request Tuesday during the regular county commission meeting on the heels of a similar request from Wadena County Human Services last month.

The request comes from a mandate from the state that child protection employees be compensated for on-call staffing. While 24-hour coverage has been provided in the past, county attorney employees have not been compensated comp time or overtime.

The topic was pulled from the consent agenda to have further discussion by commissioner Chuck Horsager. The recommendation to approve the stipend came out of the personnel committee.

The Wadena County Attorney Office's Child Protection Emergency Response After Hours Call Policy was written as such: The Assistant County Attorney assigned to be scheduled for on call Child Protection matters are expected to respond to Human Services' (HS) and/or law enforcement calls within 15 minutes. Assistant county attorneys that are on call for child protection matters will adhere to the standards associated with licensing requirements necessary to perform their duties. In the event that the on call assistant county attorney is unable to take the call within 15 minutes of receiving call from HS, the call shall be directed to the county attorney to assist with HS. While assistant county attorney is responding to emergency response call they will not earn overtime or comp time. The monthly stipend shall be divided equally between assistant county attorneys scheduled to be on call. In the event that the county attorney is scheduled to be on call for Child Protection, no stipend shall be paid for that call.

County Attorney Kyra Ladd told commissioners some differences between this policy and the Human Services policy is that this policy does not compensate the county attorney with a stipend, comp time or overtime. It compensates the assistant county attorney with a $1,000 stipend per month. Supervisors and social workers of Human Services are compensated overtime, comp time and share an $800 stipend a month.

The topic also brought up the fact that even if there was comp time made available for the assistant county attorney, there are no extra staff to allow it.

"We don't have the bodies," Ladd said. The county is currently seeking a second assistant county attorney.

Ladd said in the event the assistant county attorney can't take the calls, she does, which at times can include about 25 calls a week.

All commissioners were in favor of the policy making it effective Aug. 25, 2018.