Civil service under fire

First Posted: 1/5/2015

LIMA — During Monday’s Lima City Council meeting, which saw near capacity attendance, a large portion of the discussions centered around the City’s civil service hiring processes.

Mayor David Berger penned a letter to the council and the Civil Service Board calling for the board to adopt a “pass/fail” rule when determining which candidates to consider for city positions, meaning that any candidates who passed the civil service test would be considered for interview. Currently, the board uses a “rule of 10,” meaning that the board will consider 10 candidates per position available, leaving several passing candidates out of consideration.

Berger said that this would not actually change the standards by which candidates are considered, since they would still be required to pass the same civil service test to be eligible.

“This is not about dummying down the test,” he said. “It’s instead an opening up of the opportunity to consider everyone that passes, not limiting it to the smaller number that simply end up being first considered.”

The hope, according to Berger’s letter, is that this will encourage minority candidates to apply for city positions, potentially helping the City’s civil workforce better reflect Lima’s demographic composition.

“Re-thinking the process with a ‘pass/fail rule’ will provide encouragement to minority prospects and real opportunity for the administration to consider all qualified candidates,” he wrote.

Councilman Jesse Lowe II, who also serves as the Human Resources Committee chair, moved that the issue be sent to that committee for further review. Rather than seeing the lack of city minority employees as an evaluation issue, Lowe sees the problem as a communication issue.

“The issue is getting the communication out to the people to let them know that the tests are availalble,” he said. “The system that we have works.”

Councilman Sam McLean said that no systemic change to the city’s hiring system will help bring in more minority employees until more minorities take the civil service test.

“It’s not going to give us any better results if you don’t come out and take the test,” he said. “We need people walking in the door taking the test.”

At the end of the discussion, the council voted to send this issue to the Human Resources Committee for further review.

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