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Silt wants ‘consultant’ to help with employee relations

John Colson
jcolson@postindependent.com

SILT — As a way of cleaning up the ethical, formal relationship between Town Administrator Pamela Woods and the employees she oversees, the town’s trustees on Monday decided to create a new municipal position — a human resources consultant available on an as-needed basis to help the town deal with difficult employee-relations issues.

And following a motion by Trustee Paul Taylor, there will be no formal Request For Proposals (RFP) issued to attract applicants for the position.

Instead, it will be offered to the town’s water attorney, Lee Leavenworth, who Taylor said has indicated interest in doing the job.

No such employee relations cases were mentioned at the trustees meeting Monday, nor names mentioned, although Trustee Bryan Fleming referred to related matters that needed to be taken up behind closed doors. Fleming could not be reached on Tuesday for further explanation.

The matter was raised by Woods and town attorney Michael Sawyer, after discussions about the propriety of Woods’ holding down the administrator’s job as well the position of Human Resources Director.

“I shouldn’t be doing both jobs,” Woods said Tuesday, as Sawyer explained to the trustees at the meeting. He said that it is the HR director’s role to bring employment-related recommendations to the administrator, so the administrator can review the information and make a decision about the issue involved, and that having the two positions held by one person is not appropriate.

Two of the trustees, including Fleming and Trustee Rick Aluise, supported the idea of issuing an RFP.

Fleming said the town typically has issued RFPs for contracts such as the one that will be used for this position.

Aluise suggested that, in hiring someone who will hold firing and hiring authority over others, the town should put out an RFP.

Taylor, however, argued that there is not likely to be much use made of the position, since most disagreements between the town and its workers should mainly be handled by the administration. If the problem cannot be solved that way, he said, “Then it comes to the board.”

Aluise said his main concern with regard to the position and the duties involved is “the gray area of the appeal process [as written in the code]. That needs to be clarified” concerning how appeals are handled, and by whom.

Woods, reading from a copy of the town’s codes, informed the trustees that the ultimate appeal authority is the Board of Trustees itself, although Sawyer said the town’s home rule charter names the administrator as “the decider” in employment disputes. A later ordinance created the appeals process on the books today, Sawyer said.

Taylor, saying the existing policy “doesn’t work,” moved to adopt a job description for the new position, which calls for someone to “be available” to assist department heads in personnel disputes, to assist in employment-related investigations, and to handle “an employment complaint against the town administrator with primary focus on informal dispute resolution such as mediation.”

Taylor’s motion also rejected the idea of an RFP and directed that the job be offered to Leavenworth.

The motion passed, 4-3, with trustees Keith Richel, Aluise and Fleming voting against.

In other action the trustees:

• Gave final approval to a new law permitting the licensing and regulation of retail marijuana sales businesses, and an amendment to the zoning code detailing where such businesses can locate in town. Although the trustees had discussed the idea of asking the town’s voters if they meant it when they gave their approval of Amendment 64, there currently is no such election planned for the spring of 2014.

• Approved a resolution supporting Garfield County’s position opposing current plans by the Bureau of Land Management to protect the greater sage-grouse by limiting development and other disturbances in some lands in western Colorado, including portions of Garfield County.

• Gave tentative approval of the proposed municipal budget for 2014. Final approval is expected at the Dec. 9 board meeting.


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