Portage eyes changing personnel policies for supervisors

2012-11-28T17:45:00Z 2012-11-28T19:45:19Z Portage eyes changing personnel policies for supervisorsBy Joyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | A change in city personnel policy four years ago has come back to bite officials as they wrangle over what to do about vacations for department supervisors.

Clerk-treasurer Chris Stidham said in 2008 the City Council amended the personnel policy ordinance to remove department supervisors from the policy. It was done to allow the mayor to negotiate vacation time with prospective department supervisors as part of a benefit package.

However, Stidham said, he learned recently from the State Board of Accounts that that practice may not be legal.

The City Council's Ordinance Committee took up the subject at its meeting this week. At issue is bringing department supervisors back into the city's personnel policy; vacation terms already negotiated with new department supervisors and whether assistant department heads should be grouped with their supervisors or with other employees in terms of vacation and other benefits.

Committee members Ted Uzelac, Liz Modesto and Matt Scheuer, in general, agreed that those department heads and assistants hired this year and promised vacation benefits as part of their hiring package should have those agreements honored.

"We don't want to punish present employees," said Uzelac.

After substantial discussion, the committee agreed to recommend changing the city's personnel policy, effective Jan. 1. The changes would bring department heads back under the city personnel policy. It would also give people hired as department supervisors a minimum of two weeks vacation their first year with an option of four weeks of vacation, if approved by the City Council. The first week, however, could not be taken until after 90 days of employment with the city and the second week could not be taken until after six months of employment.

Still unresolved — committee members said they wanted the entire council to voice their opinions — is whether or not to include assistants in the classification of supervisors or with the rest of the city employees.

The full City Council is expected to take up the issue at its meeting Tuesday.

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