Kendall labor talks result in more than $500,000 savings
By Steve Lord email@example.com October 21, 2013 9:12AM
Updated: November 23, 2013 6:11AM
YORKVILLE — When Kendall County State’s Attorney Eric Weis hired attorney Leslie Johnson in 2009, saving money was not the main reason.
“Surprisingly, no,” he said. “The County Board had to fill a second civil (division) position. But to have this person apply, with her experience, was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
That experience was her time working for a law firm that specialized in human relations, employment and labor issues. With Johnson on board at the county, it was decided to have her handle the upcoming nine labor contracts coming up for negotiation.
Weis says the decision, or as he also refers to it, the “experiment,” to have Johnson handle the labor contracts saved the county $548,587. That’s based on the time she spent doing the work, if it would have been billable hours to an outside counsel.
Not only does Johnson not make that much money as an assistant state’s attorney, Weis’ entire line item in the 2013 budget for his assistants is $757,713.
Weis said Johnson was able to negotiate lower health insurance costs in all the contracts, too, saving the county $126,183, although that will be eaten up by additional costs associated with the Affordable Care Act.
Johnson also saved KenCom, the county’s emergency dispatch service, $102,000 negotiating their latest union contract, too, Weis said.
Weis added the costs he figured up might have even gone higher. One of the advantages to doing the contract in-house is that county officials were able to talk to Johnson when they needed to, without being billed additionally.
“I’m obviously very happy from my end,” Weis said. “I hope the County Board is, too.”