Meriden City Council considers adding personnel committee

Meriden City Council considers adding personnel committee

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MERIDEN — The City Council is considering adding a personnel committee to review labor issues, policies, benefits, staffing, and other employee-related concerns.

It is unclear who would comprise the five-person committee, but Democratic council leadership said it will be chaired by a member of the majority party. 

“It’s probably something that’s been needed for a long time,” said Majority Leader David Lowell. “If you look at the departments in the city, really the only department that doesn’t have a standing committee on the council to work with, report to, keep up to date on things with is the Personnel Department.”

Although the council has had ad hoc committees in the past to oversee labor and collective bargaining issues, the personnel committee would take a more expansive approach to issues involving city staff. The committee would review matters relating to personnel policies and practices, compensation and benefits, labor relations and collective bargaining, employee relations, staffing, and the city’s organizational structure, according to a draft document summarizing the committee provided to the Record-Journal. 

The document states the committee would also “serve, in its sole discretion, as a non-binding advisory review panel for non-union employees regarding personnel matters that may involve or be in potential conflict with the city manager and/or personnel (human resources) director.”

Other tasks include creating and implementing a performance evaluation mechanism for the city’s non-union employees, establishing hiring goals and reviewing the city’s Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity responsibilities, annual wage and benefits review for non-union positions, and provide guidance for interview panels for certain job openings. 

Human Resources Director Marci Nogueira would act as the staff liaison to the committee and be tasked with providing regular reports on compliance with federal labor laws, status updates on arbitration cases, and workers’ compensation issues. Nogueira did not return a request for comment Thursday. 

The committee would be made up of five City Councilors, with at least one member from the We the People or Republican parties, and be chaired by a Democrat, Lowell said. Like other standing committees,  the group would review matters and make a recommendation to the full City Council. 

Councilors have previously said the city’s governing body does not get involved in personnel matters, but Councilor Brian Daniels said many issues involving staff impact the city. 

“We have to think about how we deal with personnel,” Daniels said. “We have a lot of these issues that don’t seem to really fall under any standing committee, and really, with the size of our city, it’s something we should have.”

Republican Minority Leader Dan Brunet was in favor of the committee, which he hoped would not try to “micro-manage” staff issues within City Hall. Although the impetus for creating the committee predates tensions between City Manager Guy Scaife and leaders of the city’s Finance, Legal, and Economic Development departments, Brunet said the committee would provide structure for the council to deal with those issues.

”We had people going directly to city councilors, directly to legal staff... so that’s one of the reasons I would be in favor of something like this,” Brunet said. 

The council is expected to discuss the creation of the committee at its Dec. 18 meeting.

Twitter: @LeighTaussRJ

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