Commission rejects mayor’s hiring policy

Mary Ann Kearns - [email protected]

Maysville City Commission rejected a proposal Thursday that would have required all open positions be advertised to the public, abandoning the current policy of hiring from within when possible.

The issue was first introduced in January after Commissioner Andrew Wood approached City Manager Matt Wallingford and asked about the city’s hiring practices.

At that time, Mayor Charles Cotterill said he favored more open hiring as a more transparent policy.

Under current procedures, entry level positions are normally advertised to the public while promotions for mid level positions and department heads are most often filled from within by individuals who are qualified to move up and only opened for outside applicants if no qualified candidates are on staff.

With the issue on Thursday’s agenda, Wallingford asked for direction from commissioners on how to proceed.

“Tell me what is the commission’s pleasure and we’ll go from there,” he said. “I still believe we have been doing it correctly. We feel like the process works.”

Commissioners Kelly Ashley agreed.

“I think department heads know their people, they know better what kind of person they need for the job,” he said. “I don’t think we have the money to run around looking for supermen when we’ve already got them here.”

Wood and Cotterill said advertising all positions is a matter of transparency. Wood said at the least all jobs should be posted on the city’s website.

Wallingford said there is no statute requiring the city to advertise jobs and there is no reason to if there is an internal candidate.

“It sends a bad message to the people that are here,” he said.

Fire Chief Kevin Doyle, who was backed a large contingent of his firefighters, asked Wood if he had read the policy concerning promotions within the fire department and what requirements a candidate must meet.

Wood said he had not.

“So you want to change a policy you haven’t even read?” Doyle said.

Cotterill said he was amazed at the negative feedback the issue was receiving.

“It just boggles my mind,” Cotterill said while reminding Doyle that he had been elected to represent the public, not “fire department, police department or public works. I got hired to represent the people of Maysville and that’s what I’m going to do.”

He asked firefighters and an equal number of police officers who attended the meeting “what’s the fear? That a better person is going to fill the job? That’s what we want.” He said there is no consistency in the city’s policy.

“We have a policy,” Human Resources Director Karen Cracraft said, “You’ve got a copy.”

“This is cronyism, that’s what it is,” Cotterill countered.

Wood said he had been questioned by several people about the city’s hiring practices but when asked by Cracraft about wehat job, said it was not for a specific position.

Cotterill again suggested the city should advertise all jobs or “continue to be secretive.”

Commissioner Victor McKay said he did not have a problem with promoting from within and Commissioner Jeff Brammer said to do otherwise is “going to kill morale and we’ll lose a lot of people.”

Police Chief Jared Muse said the suggestion to open promotional positions to the public is an insult to police officers and firefighters who have stuck with the city.

“This is a slap in their face,” Muse said. “These guys work hard for the city and don’t get paid a lot but they’re loyal. What you’re saying is not right.”

Wallingford told commissioners “you have to trust us as administrators. We know our employees.”

At the end of the discussion, Wood made a motion to require all jobs to be advertised with a second by Ashley. A vote on the proposal found only Cotterill and Wood voting in favor with McKay, Brammer and Ashley voting against the measure.

Commissioners compromised on a related issued involving screening applicants for department head positions. Wallingford agreed to notify commissioners of hires and promotions two weeks in advance of the action and to discuss the actions in executive session before making a final recommendation.

Also Thursday, commissioners:

— Learned that an organization which owned Humphrey Park has ceased to exist and that the property will revert to the city. Wallingford suggested the city sell the property at auction and Cotterill suggested proceeds be used in part to upgrade the park behind the public library.

— Approved the consent agenda.

— Approved a resolution authorizing an insurance application.

— Approved a resolution authorizing the loan agreement for the static jet display at Fleming-Mason Airport.

— Approved an ordinance amending the Code of Ordinance to create a subsection dealing with the improper disposal of pet solid waste.

Mary Ann Kearns

[email protected]