EDWARDSVILLE ― The Madison County Board on Wednesday settled a sexual harassment lawsuit against former Sheriff Robert Hertz.
The board authorized $42,500 to settle a two-count federal lawsuit filed Nov. 26, 2013, by Jaimie Linton, a former business administrator in the sheriff's department. The lawsuit alleges Hertz, as Linton's supervisor, violated Linton's civil rights and intentionally inflicted emotional distress. The suit sought $4 million in damages, plus court costs.
“The decision by Madison County officials to resolve the lawsuit brought against the county by Ms. Linton was the appropriate, fiscally responsible action,” the county's legal counsel, Assistant State's Attorney John Gilbert, said in a prepared statement. “The opportunity to resolve the case without any admission of wrongdoing was the appropriate decision. The settlement eliminated the uncertain outcome of a trial and the amount is considerably less than the expenses the county would have incurred with a trial and a likely appeal.”
Linton claimed Hertz falsely accused her of having an affair with a co-worker, sent hostile emails and made offensive hand gestures after Linton left a room where other male employees were present. The suit also claims Linton was transferred in May 2013 to the Madison County Probation Department because of an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint she filed against Hertz in May 2013.
Capt. Eric Decker filed a two-count lawsuit on Nov. 27, 2013, alleging that Hertz violated his constitutional rights by conducting an unauthorized search of his phone and other personal records and alleging that Hertz violated his civil rights by retaliating against Decker for opposing Hertz's alleged violations of a female employee's civil rights. The suit asks for $250,000 in damages plus court costs. Decker's case is scheduled for a settlement conference Jan. 29 before Magistrate Judge Stephen C. Williams at the federal courthouse in East St. Louis.
Hertz, a 42-year veteran of the Sheriff's Department, lost last March's Democratic primary to Sheriff John Lakin.
In other action, the County Board approved a revised fee structure for the clerk, recorder and sheriff’s offices estimated to raise about $497,000 per year.
Seven board members voted against the increases at the Jan. 21 meeting, including Collinsville Republican Lisa Ciampoli.
“A fee is a tax,” Ciampoli said.
Other no votes, all from Republicans, were Judy Kuhn of Trenton, Stephen Adler of Alton, Michael “Mick” Madison of Bethalto, Brad Maxwell of Edwardsville, Thomas K. McRae of Bethalto and Michael J. Walters of Godfrey. The final vote was 21-7 with Edwardsville Democrat Ann Gorman absent.
County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan said people using the system should support government operations.
“It keeps property taxes down,” Dunstan said. “By using the fees to support county government, you’re saving John Q. Public property tax dollars.”
In an interview, County Administrator Joe Parente said the board’s Finance Committee authorized a study last summer to analyze the county’s actual cost of providing services. State law allowed the county to conduct the study.
About 31 percent of the cost to provide county services is funded through user fees, Parente said.
“The fees haven’t been raised in many years and we were updating them to reflect the current cost,” he said.
The higher fees are estimated to generate $268,000 per year for the general fund and $229,000 in a restricted fund to pay for automation of record-keeping and other tasks in the clerk’s and recorder’s offices.
Two of the largest increases are for the sheriff’s department. Suspects who are arrested on a warrant and who bond out of jail before their trial will be assessed new fees.
“Essentially, the people that are being admitted into our criminal justice system are being charged for what it costs,” Parente said. “It saves other taxpayers from those costs.”
The new fees are effective March 1.
The new fees are:
- Marriage license: $35
- Civil union license: $35
- Marriage license copy: $12
- Civil union license copy: $12
- Birth certificate copy: $12
- Death certificate copy: $15
- Genealogy certificate: $12
- Register notary in office: $10
- Register plat: $12
- Tax deed: $11
- Juret: $14
- Township map: $10
- CD: $17
- Labels: 2 cents
- Delinquent tax reports: $25
- Money-operated juke box: $25
- Money-operated electronic machine: $25
- Automation fee: $8
- Mortgages, modifications, releases, assignments and related documents: $14
- Notices, affidavits and memorandums: $14
- Automation fee: $7
- Serve/attempt serve civil process: $52
- Serve warrant: $84
- Hourly rate: $65
- Taking bond on process: $25
- Taking bond on process (felony): $65
- Body attachments: $79