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LINCOLN — Logan County Board member Pat O’Neill has received two dozen phone calls disputing recent salary figures for the planned new jobs at Robert’s Sysco Food Services Inc.

O’Neill believes the county board has been misled, but Sysco officials said the salaries will be at the promised higher figures.

"I want to know where these $46,000 and higher jobs are," said O’Neill, "We were led to believe this and then when many people went to the recent job fair, they were quoted at least $10,000 less."

The $14 million facility is scheduled to open this spring on Lincoln’s west side. The city pledged about $1.5 million in infrastructure for the 52-acre site, while the county agreed to issue debt certificates to cover the cost of the property, which was sold to Sysco for $1 per acre.

Now O’Neill said he is concerned that county board members were misled when they were promised more than 150 jobs with annual salaries of $46,000, plus an additional $11,000 in benefits. He said that more than 1,600 people attended recent Sysco job fairs, and many came to him sharing their disappointment.

But Robert’s Sysco President Dean Robert Jr. said the salaries will be similar to those given to the Development Partnership in late January.

That information included an average annual salary of $47,620 in annual wages for drivers and $46,824 for night personnel, including overtime.

"The salaries are absolutely what we quoted to the Development Partnership, and I even just checked them again to be sure," said Robert. "We took our averages of the current employee mix to get these numbers and are absolutely sure these salaries will be available in jobs at the future plant in Lincoln."

Robert did not know details of the information given out at the job fairs, or why there was a discrepancy.

Sysco also reported in early 2005 that average annual wages of employees at a potential new facility in Lincoln would be in the mid $40,000 range, Rob Orr, executive director of the Lincoln and Logan County Development Partnership, said in a written statement.

The figures were based upon averages in Robert’s Food Springfield operation and other Sysco operations.

This information was given to state agencies and Orr’s group also shared it with the Logan County Board and other groups.

To date, more than 3,000 applications are on file for the 150+ jobs currently being filled at Sysco, Orr added.


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