Lima city council: HR committee discussing temp work

By Josh Ellerbrock -

LIMA — An hour-long discussion by Lima City Council’s Human Resources Committee led to a recommendation to approve a tabled contract with a staffing agency on the stipulation that councilors continue to discuss options to replace the small percentage of city workers hired through temporary agency services.

Councilor Sam McLean originally called for the meeting. He took the podium early in the night to outline his goal.

“I think that our goal as a committee and as a council is to make it easier to hire help,” McLean said.

Due to city regulations and language in its charter, the city currently has turned to contract work in order to hire for positions that need to be filled immediately.

The practice was more common during the height of the Great Recession, but as the economy rebounded, the city has been able to recoup many of the positions that were scaled back. Temporary workers now make up less than five percent of the city’s total workforce. Even so, McLean said he wanted to consider how to ease hiring so the city can fill its positions without having to rely on temporary agencies.

Throughout the meeting, the Human Resources Committee asked a number of questions to both Human Resources Manager Vince Ozier and Legal Director Tony Geiger to better understand some of the details of the city’s hiring phases as well as some of the legal definitions separating seasonal and part-time work.

After extensive discussion concerning the city’s charter, its legal code, requirements from the Civil Service Board and the employee’s unions, the amount of work needed to come to any final decision or solution became apparent.

“None of this is very easy, honestly,” Ozier said.

Council members also eventually learned that some of the information provided by the city’s administration may contradict some of the information provided by a union official in a three-page letter received by City Council. Those incongruities need to be understood in more detail before the discussion continues, city officials agreed.

“We support the goal, but we also support our unions. And we don’t want to do anything to harm our relationship with our union,” Finance Director Steve Cleaves said.

As it neared the scheduled start of an executive session, the Human Resources Committee decided to put the discussion on hold although all parties admitted that the meeting was a good start to something that needs to be continued.

“I think the point has been made,” Council President John Nixon said. “But we all have to recognize that it’s going to take more time and research.”

By Josh Ellerbrock

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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