ROCK ISLAND -- Shelly Chapman, executive assistant to the Rock Island County Board, continues to rack up comp time hours and convert them to cash almost two months after state's attorney John McGehee warned that she was breaking county policy.
On May 16, Mr. McGehee issued a legal opinion that found that Ms. Chapman had violated county policy that he said limits workers to only taking 80 hours of comp time a year.
But since then Ms. Chapman has continued to use comp time hours, the bulk of which she converts into cash, even though she has already far surpassed the limit.
Since the start of the county's fiscal year Ms. Chapman has taken 380 comp hours and has been paid around $11,000 on top of her salary by converting most of the hours to cash. She's paid time-and-a-half for the comp hours.
Last year, Ms. Chapman made almost $18,000 by converting 628 comp hours into cash. She was among a group of around 30 county employees who exceeded the limit on comp time identified by Mr. McGehee, according to a freedom of information request.
The majority of the 220 county employees who use comp time to take time off work but 21 converted some of their hours into cash, although none in amounts nearly as large as Ms. Chapman. Comp time is designed to allow workers to take time off in lieu of receiving overtime pay.
County board chairman Phil Banaszek said the county had to pay Ms. Chapman for hours worked. He does not dispute Mr. McGehee's view on the limits on comp time but said he was following existing practices in authorizing the hours for Ms. Chapman.
County board member Don Johnston, D-Moline, held a news conference Wednesday at which he highlighted various issues with Ms. Chapman's pay.
He said some pay documents used to determine Ms. Chapman's pay were only signed by her. Mr. Johnston also again argued that a large number of hours submitted by Ms. Chapman should not have been classified at comp time, which is paid at a higher rate.
A forensic audit of time cards and other documents related to Ms. Chapman's pay should be conducted to get to the bottom of the matter, Mr. Johnston said.
In response to the criticism, Mr. Banaszek said he has moved to hire an auditing firm called Wipfli to conduct an audit at a cost of around $22,000. He hired the auditors without the county board's approval, using a rule that allows him to make appropriations in emergency situations.
Mr. Johnston said he didn't think the need to hire an auditor could be called an emergency and that county board members should have had a say in what firm was hired and the scope of the work.
Today is Wednesday, Oct. 1, the 274th day of 2014. There are 91 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: It is rumored in the streets that the 13 negroes sent to Quincy on the Moline quota were refused. We think this must be a mistake. 1889 -- 125 years ago: Harvey McKenna, of Detroit, billiard player matched to play Wizard Schafer in New York in January for the world championship, was a professional friend and manager, Billy Catton in Rock Island. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Levi Cralle, former Rock Island county sheriff, had come from his farm near Mitchell, S.D. to visit friends in the city. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Work is being rushed on the new high school building in Orion to replace the one destroyed by fire last winter. Classes are being held in churches. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Rehearsals for the 84th season of the Handel Oratorio Society chorus will begin at 7:30 p.m. Monday on the stage of Centennial Hall, Augustana College. 1989 -- 25 years ago: The Rock Island City Council's plan announced this week to have the federal government vacate Valley Homes public housing and move residents to Arsenal Courts to reduce density may not be feasible.