Siler City Commissioners

Board adopts comprehensive personnel policy after hours-long discussion

Posted

SILER CITY — Commissioners approved a comprehensive personnel policy — a first for the town — during the board’s Nov. 21 meeting.

The policy was created to help mesh together several related policies that had been created over the years, according to Town Manager Hank Raper.

“This is big because the town has not had a comprehensive personnel policy … So now we have everything really in one place for all of our employees to read and understand,” he told the News + Record after the meeting.

Commissioners discussed the policy over the course of two hours, with Mayor Chip Price addressing several concerns — mostly around the proposed Article IX in the proposed document.

Article IX in the policy addresses disciplinary actions for town employees. The seven-page-long section details how department heads would handle reprimanding or dismissing employees when situations require it.

Price said that because of past incidents involving employee disciplinary actions, he wanted to make sure the policy that’s adopted protects the board and town administration from any legal ramifications arising from termination of town employees.

“There have been some decisions that were made in the last year that were very poorly handled,” Price said. “I just don’t want it to happen any more … that’s where I’m coming from.”

Price said the policy should reflect what he believes is Siler City’s vision and mission, which he said comes down to “dealing with people.”

“We don’t operate in a vacuum,” he said. “There’s a right way and a wrong way to treat people … we’ve done some things that are questionable in my opinion.”

Raper said in an interview after the meeting the incident Price was referring occurred before he became town manager, but he said he couldn’t talk about the incident because he wasn’t familiar with the circumstances.

In addition to these claims, Price said he felt the proposed policy didn’t go far enough when it came to involving the board in personnel decisions, but there is a legal explanation in N.C. General Statues.

North Carolina statute 160A-148 states town managers are able to “appoint and suspend or remove all city officers and employees not elected by the people, and whose appointment or removal is not otherwise provided for by law, except the city attorney.” The same statute in section 146 states municipal boards can “…create, change, abolish, and consolidate offices, positions, departments, boards, commissions and agencies … to promote orderly and efficient administration of city affairs.”

Town managers, by law, aren’t compelled to consult the board or the mayor regarding personnel decisions, unless it may implicate the board in legal matters.

Mayor Pro Tem Bill Haiges reminded Price of that, saying there wasn’t a way to “put every possible situation” into the comprehensive policy; he said the board could lay out a process it wishes for department heads to follow.

“We’ve set the language that we will be brought into it (personnel discipline) if there’s a liability issue with the town,” Haiges told Price. “I understand what you’re saying, but I’m trusting things are going to get handled the way they should be and people be treated the way they’re supposed to be.”

Haiges also told the mayor that the board doesn’t have a say when it comes to personnel matters — the board is only responsible for approving the policy of how to handle personnel issues.

“If something happens, he (the town manager) is accountable for it,” Haiges said. “It’s on him, and then we would hold him accountable via his contract.”

The board went on to pass the policy unanimously without Article IX, with hopes of returning the item back for discussion at its Dec. 5 meeting. Raper said after the meeting he hoped the last part of the policy could be approved as the town prepares for an increase in need for staff amid the anticipated growth in Siler City.

“We’re talking about the town evolving into this new community that is going to be with more people living here and more staff that we’re going to need,” Raper said. “The sooner we can get these policies and procedures and things in place that mirror what a larger community would have, the better off we’re going to be.”

Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at theeden@chathamnr.com and on Twitter at @HeedenTaylor.

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here