Pulaski County Chief Deputy Coroner Jon Frain is apparently back on the job, after resigning amid a wage dispute. Coroner John Behny told the county commissioners Monday he rehired Frain, when the Coroner’s Office found itself short-staffed a couple weeks ago. “I was away for an autopsy, had to leave the county,” Behny explained. “We got another call. Fulton County assisted Mr. Frain. So we were grateful that he was there and was able to respond in a very timely manner. That helped EMS and first responders and our sheriff’s deputies.”
The issue is that for the past couple of years, the county has budgeted $8,000 for a chief deputy coroner, but Frain’s actual wage was reportedly much lower, at less than $150 a month. Last month, Behny asked the county council to pay Frain the full $8,000, but council members said they weren’t ready to do that.
Behny told the commissioners that Frain is invaluable to the department for a number of reasons. “He quarterbacked the entire, for the most part, purchase of the [Masonic] Lodge,” Behny said. “He has written several different memorandums of understanding for several organizations. He’s great with families, as we know. I mean, that’s what he does. We’re both on several different committees and boards and so forth, including on the state level.”
The commissioners generally agreed that Frain deserved the $8,000 annual wage, but didn’t think they could change council members’ minds. McClure said he didn’t understand the council’s issues with Frain. “I mean, the Frain family’s been good to the Coroner’s Office, and it seemed a little nit-picky what’s going on,” McClure said. “I personally feel as though Jon’s entitled to that wage, but we can’t override the council.”
To ease some of the council’s concerns, Behny offered to provide a job description for the chief deputy coroner and have Frain log his hours. In the end, the commissioners voted to formally recommend that the council increase Frain’s annual salary to $8,000, and keep it there going forward.