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County back to drawing board for technology director job

Published: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 9:36 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 4:27 p.m. CDT

MORRIS – Grundy County would be welcoming a new technology director today if the person chosen for the position had not withdrawn their application a day before they were slated for employment.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the Grundy County Board intended to vote on a resolution to employ Salvador Ayala as the county’s new technology director at an annual salary of $75,000, plus benefits.

But Ayala notified the county Monday morning that he was withdrawing his application. Technology committee chairman David Welter declined to comment on why Ayala’s application was withdrawn.

The withdrawal may have come at the right time as some board members and Grundy County State’s Attorney Jason Helland expressed concerns about, among other things, the proposed salary, and may not have approved the new hire.

The $75,000 offered to Ayala was roughly $1,000 higher than the ending salary of J.P. Watters – the former technology director. Watters retired in January after serving as director for 10 years.

“You throw somebody in that spot from the street – when we’re supposed to be cutting the budget across the board – at $75,000,” Helland said during Monday’s Finance Committee meeting.

Welter said the technology department had enough money budgeted to pay the new director $75,000 and felt it was the right decision.

Helland’s main concern was that his office and other county board members were not made aware of the technology department’s offer before it was extended.

Helland and members of the committee agreed the hiring and firing of a department director should be a full county board decision, and any offer extended to a candidate should be reviewed by the board and attorney’s office first.

“There was an offer extended to somebody before the full county board signed off on it,” Helland said.

“That offer to extend should have happened after [Tuesday’s board meeting],” finance committee member Chris Balkema added.

Welter said all candidates, including Ayala, were aware that employment was contingent upon the county board’s approval. However, Welter said he was unclear if the written offer they provided to Ayala included that caveat.

“There’s still questions exactly as to what’s the proper hiring procedure,” Welter said Tuesday. “The state’s attorney believes that we have to go to the full board, but that’s not always how it’s been done.”

The Technology Committee had a scheduled special meeting Tuesday evening to determine how to fill the director position moving forward.

“The technology director is an important position and it does need to be filled. Every year the county is more and more reliant on technology,” Welter said Tuesday afternoon. “We need somebody qualified for that position, so we’re kind of back to the drawing board.”

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