By RICK HAYES
MT. VERNON — —
A severance agreement has resulted in a one-time payment of $18,000 to a longtime Jefferson County employee.
The agreement was signed by the employee, Vickie Harvey, Jefferson County Board Chairman Robert White and officials with the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, the union representing Harvey.
The Register-News acquired a copy of the settlement, filed on Feb. 5 with County Clerk Connie Simmons, after filing a Freedom of Information request.
According to County Treasurer Dan Knox, the severance check was issued to Harvey on Feb. 5. It was requested on or about Feb. 4 from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. The funds were paid out of a line item from the sheriff's budget, according to the claim submitted to the clerk's office. The clerk issued the check, and after Knox verified that money was in the account, the check was issued. The money is coming out of the county's General Corporate Fund, Knox confirmed.
Provisions of the settlement indicate that state and federal taxes were not deducted from the issued check.
Harvey served 22 years as the county's custodian — many of those years of service at the Jefferson County Courthouse. She spent the last 11 months of her employment at the Jefferson County Justice Center.
The timing of the settlement comes after the county laid off several employees late last year after ICE prisoners were taken from the Justice Center.
Harvey said the settlement is between the parties involved, offering, "Every officeholder is elected by the people to run their particular office and budgets. It's a personnel matter, and that's it." She added, "I do appreciate the job I've had over the last 22 years and I will miss everybody."
County Chairman Robert White confirmed he signed off on the agreement, but referred specific questions to Sheriff Roger Mulch.
Mulch said Harvey expressed a desire to retire, and after looking at all considerations — including her age, salary, savings by not replacing her, and possible medical costs the county could incur over the next three years — it was a "win, win for everybody."
"We looked at the $18,000, and by doing that we saved $1,000 over the next three years," Mulch said, and by not paying her salary, "we will save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars by the end of the year." Even if ICE prisoners are returned and a replacement is hired, Mulch said the county would still see a savings.
Mulch added that several other county employees have been given severance packages in the past.
Representatives from the FOP were not immediately available to answer calls.
According to the settlement, "Harvey and the Union represent they have not filed any grievance, unfair labor practice charge, complaint, charge or lawsuit against the Employer, or any related entities or persons, with any government county or any local, state or federal court, and Harvey and the Union represent and agree they will not do so at any time hereafter in connection with, or in any manner related to Harvey's employment with the County of Jefferson. Harvey further represents that she will not join in any past, current or future claims or litigation by any person or organization against the Employer."
The agreement states that Harvey has received all compensation and benefits to which she was and is entitled up through the resignation/retirement date of Feb. 28 (Thursday). It also stipulates the county is under no obligation to make any further payments or contributions to Harvey for salary, insurance or any other compensation or benefits.
Harvey, although shy of the required retirement age, is eligible to receive retirement benefits, according to the sheriff.
The agreement also stipulates, "This agreement does not constitute an admission by the County that it violated the collective bargaining agreement or engaged in any wrongful conduct."
It also stipulates that the agreement is "entered into on a non-precedential basis and shall not be cited by the Union or the County in any future grievance or arbitration proceedings."
A retirement party for Harvey and another correctional officer who is retiring has been scheduled at 11 a.m.Thursday at the Justice Center.