County Executive Jimmy Haley stormed out of a Policy and Personnel Committee meeting on Tuesday over Commissioner Steven Helton’s line of questioning regarding a new county human resource position.
Haley initiated the conversation by reminding commissioners the budget includes up to $50,000 for a new HR person tasked specifically with creating a policy and personnel manual. This would include standard hiring and firing practices, discipline referrals, and job descriptions within each department.
According to Haley, some elected officials have policies in place, while others do not.
“We’re looking at pay scales and step raises, longevity pay, vacations and leave policies, and benefit packages,” said Haley. “Of course, a lot of it has to do with protecting the county’s liability and risk management as well.”
Asked Commissioner Tommy Savage, “Have you talked to anyone? Is there any prospect for this job?”
Answered Haley, “Yes, I’ve already been in discussion and if we go the contract stuff, we’ll do a pre-bid type thing where I’ll throw out everything that needs to be done and they’ll come back with a proposal and I’ll look at that. If we hire a part-time person …”
Interrupted Helton, “Why are you saying a part-time person versus a full-time person?”
Answered Haley, “Because if you’re going to hire someone to do HR, you are going to have to hire two people. One person to put everything in place because that’s probably going to take a year and they can’t do a job in HR when there’s no policies.”
Helton acknowledged his personal understanding of HR due to working with people in his manufacturing facility in Morrison. He shared his opinion with committee members that they needed to approve the job description for the new HR position before hiring someone.
“Every person that I’ve interviewed that’s been in HR, and I’ve interviewed 7 or 8 to get their input on this, putting this in place, it’s going to take a lot of work and a regular HR person cannot do this,” said Haley. “One person is working for $120,000 right now in HR in private industry and they laughed at $50,000. That’s working with every elected official, that’s looking at every policy in place, that’s putting job descriptions … all this. Some of this stuff may have to be contracted out.”
Asked Helton, “Would our HR department be in charge of the hiring and firing?”
“That would be left up to our decision on what we want to do,” said Haley. “The elected officials are not going to allow that. Once again, you have standard policies that are followed that protect the county. That’s what we are looking at. We are not trying to take away from anyone. We are trying to protect the liability of the county.”
The discussion continued back and forth primarily between Haley and Helton.
“My question is, if we have this position, how do we know that this person is doing their job?” asked Helton. “We are going to hire this person …”
Interrupted Haley, “There will be.”
“You’re missing what I’m saying,” said Helton.
Commissioner Savage intervened saying, “Let’s keep it civil folks.”
“I don’t know what you’re asking,” said Haley, who grabbed his keys and abruptly left the room.
The meeting continued. Property Assessor Beth Martin shared her opinion with the committee, expressing her desire for HR services.
“As an elected official, I would like to see, for instance, when I hire someone, maybe I need somebody to help me write the qualifications I’m looking for the newspaper, help me with interviews and someone who can make sure all the paperwork is filed,” said Martin.
Once Haley returned, Helton asked what would be the next step.
Haley said he would let the committee know and that it would be a pre-bid process.