SOUTHINGTON — For the first time in the town’s history, it now has a human resources position, which was included in the 2015-16 budget.
“We’ve never had an HR person, which is ludicrous for a town of 42,000 people,” said Cheryl Lounsbury, Town Council vice chairwoman.
In the past, the work was done mostly by Town Attorney Mark Sciota, Town Manager Garry Brumback, Brumback’s secretary, and at times, department heads.
“The town’s needed it for a very, very long time,” said Brumback. Human resources “is a complicated skill set. We have not had a professional dealing with human resources ever in the history of the town.”
Lifelong Southington resident Theresa Buchanan was hired and started in the position last month.
Buchanan brings nearly 20 years of experience in human resources to the position of human resources generalist.
Previously, she was the human resource manager for Empire Industries Inc. in Manchester for two years.
“Everyone is excited that I’m here,” Buchanan said. “Even town residents come up to me and say ‘we really needed you.’”
She has a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Quinnipiac University and has a professional human resources certificate from the state.
Buchanan said she looks forward to the challenge of establishing a human resources department in Southington.
“What I’d like to bring to the town is building strategic partnerships with different department heads and show what human resources could do for them,” Buchanan said. “I think it’s just really working to develop relationships with department heads so we can look to meet their workforce potential.”
A human resources professional was “sorely needed” in the town, Brumback said, and he’s already noticed the change.
“She has already, in less than a month, made a dramatic impact in elevating the quality of human resources interaction,” he said.
Lounsbury added that Buchanan will be able to spend her entire time focusing on the department and take the burden off of Sciota and other town officials that were filling the gap.
Sciota “was having to do it ... along with other things he had on his plate,” Lounsbury said. “I think that saves us money in the long run. I think our town employees need that.”
Besides looking forward to the challenge, Buchanan is also happy to be working in the town she lives in.
She was a 1981 Southington High School Graduate and has lived in Southington her entire life.
“It’s not just a job,” Buchanan said, “it’s my hometown too.”
Buchanan’s annual salary is $65,000.