The Clark County Commissioners clashed along party lines Thursday as they decided on a firm to handle the county’s human resources function.
The commissioners voted 2-1 to award a contract for HR services to Louisville-based Integrity HR, despite the contract costing more and promising fewer working hours per month. Republicans Jack Coffman and Rick Stephenson supported the move, while Democrat John Perkins opposed.
While Coffman cited the qualifications of Integrity HR as his reason for the decision, Stephenson accused Perkins of attempting to get the contract awarded to his friends.
“The reason I thought it was advantageous for the county to go to the higher-cost company is because I feel they will provide us with better services,” Coffman said. “They’re a company that has more physical people on their staff to help provide us with those services. I thought their presentation was a little bit more professional.”
The proposal from Integrity HR has been in the hands of the commissioners for weeks, while the proposal from Greenville-based HR Unlimited arrived Wednesday. Stephenson implied during the discussion prior to the vote that Perkins had supplied HR Unlimited Resources with Integrity HR’s prices, which allowed them to come in with the lower bid.
“The verbiage in the two contracts is almost identical in a lot of places,” Stephenson said. “The price from the one that happens to be friends of the good old boys in Clark County, I feel, had inside knowledge of the contract bid from Integrity.”
Stephenson pointed out that HR Unlimited Resources’ vice president is Suzy Bass, who served as the longtime deputy clerk-treasurer for the city of Jeffersonville. Perkins acknowledged knowing Bass, but also said he is acquainted with the leadership of Integrity HR. He denied providing HR Unlimited Resources with knowledge of Integrity HR’s bid to give them a competitive advantage.
“[HR Unlimited Resources is] extremely qualified,” Perkins said. “The other company has very little, if any, county experience in the state of Indiana. They’re from Kentucky. They do not understand the nuances of public employee laws and regulations in the state of Indiana.”
HR Unlimited Resources proposed to charge the county $6,000 for each of the first three months and provide up to 60 hours of labor before charging $100 per hour in overages, and then $3,500 for the next nine months and 35 hours of labor.
Integrity HR’s contract with the county is for $4,975 per month for the first three months, which includes 35 hours of labor before charging overage fees for additional hours. The firm will charge $3,795 per month for the balance of the one-year contract, which includes up to 24 hours of labor before overages are charged. Integrity HR’s overage fees range $75 to $250 per hour, depending on the level of expertise.
“Yes, [Integrity HR’s price] is higher, but we’re getting a much larger firm, and contrary to what has been said, they’ve done business with many municipalities,” Stephenson said.
The county has been relying on employees in the auditor’s office to administer benefits. Integrity HR will also be charged with developing policies for the county, Coffman said. The county had been weighing hiring an individual to fill the role of HR manager for the county, but decided against it.
“The reason we decided to go with a company is we felt like the task of organizing an HR department in this county from scratch would be too overwhelming for a single person to handle,” Coffman said. They would not have the resources that a company has to develop a whole HR department.”
CORONER’S COSTS ON THE RISE
In 2012, the Clark County Coroner’s Office investigated 139 deaths. With a month to go in 2013, the office has already investigated 277 deaths. And the bills are piling up.
Chief Deputy Coroner Jamie Hutchinson appeared before the commissioners with a request to declare an emergency and pay bills in the amount of $11,490 for autopsies and toxicology reports.
Hutchinson noted that the cost of autopsies and toxicology reports could rise if the bills aren’t paid on time.
The commissioners voted instead to approve an ordinance sending $12,000 from the county’s cumulative capital fund to its rainy day fund, which will allow the county council to pay the claims. The vote was 2-1 with Stephenson against.
Stephenson said the commissioners have already given the county council $1 million in funds from the cumulative capital and cumulative bridge funds.
“I don’t have anything against the coroner,” Stephenson said.