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City manager proposes HR assistant position

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After four months on the job, City Manager Sharon A. Addison has proposed adding a position to oversee hiring and handle other human resources activities.

She is asking the City Council to approve adding the position within the next few months. She wants council members to discuss the confidential management position at Monday night’s council meeting.

In a memo Wednesday, Ms. Addison wrote “it has become apparent that the city could significantly benefit” from creating an HR position.

The city manager would like to see the issue finalized in January or February, although she has not put together any cost figures because her proposal “could be done in a number of ways.”

“My hope is that it would be done in this budget,” she said Friday.

Under her proposal, the human resources assistant would provide a “centralized and consistent” system of human resources for the city. The HR assistant also would be responsible for compliance and training policies and developing, retaining and promoting “an excellent work force by nurturing a high-performance work culture,” she wrote.

Under her long-term plan, she would like to establish an HR department with a director and staff to handle payroll, benefits and other duties.

Payroll is now handled by the comptroller’s office and hirings go through the Civil Service Commission, through department heads and by the city manager, depending on the specific position, she said.

Tonight will be the first time council members discuss her plans, though she has discussed the issue with individual members.

Councilwoman Teresa R. Macaluso was surprised by the proposal when she read the memo, saying she was unaware Ms. Addison was thinking about proposing an HR position.

“I would wait to hear to see how she plans to do this,” Ms. Macaluso said. “She may have some good reasons.”

Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham, who discussed the idea briefly Thursday with Ms. Addison, said he will let the city manager explain her proposal and find out how much it would cost before making up his mind about it.

Most organizations of the city’s size have HR departments, he said, noting the idea has surfaced a few times in the past. For instance, in 1998, council members decided against abolishing the Civil Service Commission and establishing a full-time Human Resources Department.

Tonight’s meeting will have a busy agenda. Council members will also consider:

n Having a resolution drafted for the Dec. 17 meeting to waive an $18,422 building permit for the $10.4 million renovation of the Woolworth Building on Public Square. They would also formally agree that night to sell a vacant parcel across the street from the landmark that would be converted to a parking area for tenants in the proposed 50 apartments.

n Setting 6 p.m. Jan. 8 for a public auction to sell the former Fort Drum Vehicle Storage warehouse at 753 Rear W. Main St. after a deal fell through with Ruby “Charlene” Williams last week. Ms. Williams, the company’s chief financial officer, failed to go to the closing for the building Tuesday.

n Appointing Kenneth A. Mix, the city’s planning and community development coordinator, as the city’s representative for the Watertown Local Development Corp.

The council meets at 7 p.m. in the third-floor council chambers at City Hall, 245 Washington St.

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