Controversial Kane Co. temporary hire will stay on through end of year
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The Kane County employee with the most intrigue surrounding his place on the payroll will stay in his position for at least the rest of the budget year.
Robert Sauceda gave his first public presentation Tuesday to the county board's public health committee. It highlighted summer plans to further market the need for dog and cat owners to get their pets vaccinated for rabies and keep their county tags paid and up to date.
Sauceda was hired as the temporary billing manager in Animal Control in late January following the board's rejection of Chairman Chris Lauzen's desire to name Sauceda as the agency's director. Sauceda and Lauzen ran under the same political banner in the 2012 campaign.
Sauceda's employment has been in the spotlight ever since. Public Health Executive Director Barb Jeffers supported her boss' decision to hire Sauceda Tuesday in spotlighting a trend of increasing revenues in Animal Control since Sauceda was hired.
"It's primarily the work that's going on with the billing manager," Jeffers said about the better income levels of the agency. "We're really taking this seriously. Each month there are additional things being done to generate revenue."
Jeffers spotlighted Sauceda's recent discovery that some of the low-cost animal clinics were not making pet owners aware they need to register their animals with the county and purchase county rabies tags. The department has also made heavy use of robocalls to remind county residents when their tags need renewing.
For his part, Sauceda told the committee he expects revenue to improve further after summer marketing reinforces the potential costs involved if an non-vaccinated pet bites someone.
"We're finding a huge gap in what the public knows about rabies and those costs," Sauceda said.
Sauceda also has a personal stake in bringing revenues into the department — his job. In an interview, Jeffers said Sauceda's $52,000 temporary employee salary is being paid out of the money that would normally fund a director's position for animal control. As a result, she can't hire a director for the agency. Further, there can't be both a director position and a billing manager position in Animal Control unless Sauceda brings in so much new revenue that both positions can be funded.
"If that happens, then maybe the billing manager becomes a viable permanent position," Jeffers said. "But right now the budget is not designed to have both of those positions. That department has to be self-funded. And we have to make our payment on what we owe to the county still on our building. So we want to be sure about the amount of revenue being brought in before we make any decisions."
The only way to make sure, Jeffers said, is to keep Sauceda's temporary job on the payroll for the rest of the budget year, which goes through November.
So far, while the revenues are trending up in Animal Control by about $20,000, the jury is still out on Sauceda bringing in enough cash to keep his job next year.
According to his own presentation, his primary roll is to increase the amount of revenue in Animal Control by getting more residents to purchase county rabies tags. But the county board more than doubled the fees for those rabies tags last year for all pets that are not spayed or neutered. Jeffers said that does account for some of the increased income in Animal Control, but not all of it.
Indeed, the numbers show there has also been an increase in the number of rabies tags sold. But it is less clear how much money and how much of a difference Sauceda has made.
Animal Control sold about 470 more rabies tags from December 2012 to April 2013 than it did in that same time frame the year before. Sauceda didn't come on board until February, but even if all the increase in sales happened during his tenure, and even if all 470 of those were the most expensive 3-year rabies tags for non-spayed or neutered cats or dogs, that accounts for about $29,375 in new money through six months.
Jeffers plans on making monthly reports about the performance of Animal Control through the end of the year.
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