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Council De-Funds Personnel Department, Merges it With School District

The change came in the form of a budget amendment last week and is expected to save $100,000.

In the hopes of saving about $100,000, the City Council last week amended the budget to de-fund the city's personnel department and merge its operations with the school district.

The change effectively eliminates the city's personnel director — a mayoral appointment — and marks the first of several consolidation measures that have been kicked around for years to actually get implemented.

Council Member James Donahue said the consolidation is an "experiment for the city and the school district" and an "opportunity to reduce the amount of money the city is spending to manage a function and provide some additional relief to schools."

The idea is that the school district would get paid by the city to compensate for the extra work. If things go smoothly, "it could lay the groundwork for other operations in certain areas" like information technology, Donahue said.

"If it doesn't work, we have a case study to look at and study and try to examine why it didn't work."

The measure didn't pass with no resistance. Councilman Paul Archetto noted that the essentially "eliminates the personnel department" and that opens the door to getting sued by the personnel director.

"The council can't just yoink the personnel director," Archetto said. "The city could be placed in injunction and the city is going to spend $50,000 or $100,000 in legal fees."

Council President Tony Lupino said the council wouldn't be eliminating anything.

"It's de-funding a department," Lupino said. "It's no different than the mayor not filling positions in the highway department or a director through attrition."

Donahue said there will always be reasons why people think not to consolidate services, but in this instance, he said it seems to protect the integrity of the City Charter and "is limiting tools the mayor has."

Last night, school officials discussed the measure and indicated they weren't exactly sure how the consolidation will work. Chief Operating Officer Ray Votto said he knows the district will have to take on more work and the city and the school personnel departments handle different responsibilities, some which are handled by other departments, so there are many details to be hammered out.

And when asked how much money the district needs to make the arraignment fair, Votto said he wasn't sure.

Joe Richer May 17, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Is the Director not an "at will" employee? Why not? I feel for anyone losing their job but we need to consolidate and eliminate wherever it makes sense.
steven Carrera May 17, 2012 at 03:00 PM
As much as I would applaud the council regarding the efforts of saving money certainly violating the City Charter should not be one of them. The Charter provides for a Department of Personnel. Anyone that would say that it is being defunded is just a play on words. I, as a citizen and a member of the recently adjourned Charter Review Commission, take as an afront the recent violations of this document. Perhaps this issue will end up in the Superior Court similar to the fourth ward council seat. And just wait until hell freezes over for a decision!!! Steven Carrera
Joe Richer May 17, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Excellent point, that I somehow missed Steve. I agree that you should not be able to escape the charter through defunding. Both parties should know that that's a "trick" that cuts both ways. On the other hand, if we can save money through changes to the charter...I hope we will do what we can to speed that up.

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