Board rejects proposal to ‘share’ HR manager

By Bill Short

The Oakland Board of Mayor and Aldermen has rejected a proposal to “share” a Human Resources manager with one of the other municipalities in Fayette County.

At its Aug. 16 regular monthly meeting, the board defeated a motion offered by Alderman Maggie Powers and seconded by Alderman Chuck Wombough. The motion failed by a 3-2 vote, with Aldermen John Evans and Karl Chambless opposed and Mayor Scott Ferguson casting the dissenting tie-breaker.

During discussion shortly before the vote, Wombough recalled that a full-time position of Human Resources director was included in the current fiscal year’s budget. While noting that the board examined a job description for the position, he said Oakland has fewer than 50 full-time and part-time personnel.

“I just don’t know where the full-time is required for that position in this town,” he said. “There’s been nothing presented to the board saying, ‘This is what the responsibilities are, and this is what that position will be doing.’”

Wombough said the board probably should have made the position part-time, such as 20 hours in two and a half days a week. Recommending a 60-day trial period, he said the board could then make it a full-time position if necessary, or just keep it part-time until the next budget process is completed.

While acknowledging that Wombough had made a “good point,” Ferguson asked the other board members to consider the “logic” of it. The mayor said he cannot find a part-time, 20-hour-a-week Human Resources manager and require him to have a master’s or even a bachelor’s degree.

“It’s a career,” he noted. “It’s not a part-time job. It’s either a go-or-no thing. We go with the position, or we just don’t have the position.”

As Oakland’s “administrator,” Ferguson said, he sees the town’s needs on a daily basis.

“I’ve chosen to implement that position and put it in our budget,” he said. “That was my case in the budget workshops, when we were talking about the budget itself, and that’s my case tonight.”

But Wombough said the board cannot be sure that it will be unable to find a part-time Human Resources manager.

“There may be somebody out there who’s retired or who’s got kids in school and can’t work full time,” he suggested. “It’s a $48,000-a-year position, and I just don’t feel the need for it as full time.”

Powers recalled that, in the past, full-time Oakland employees have performed the “functions” of a Human Resources manager on a part-time basis. But Ferguson said that, after he was sworn in as mayor, he had to “clean up a mess” because of a lack of “separation of duties.”