WESTFIELD – The Legislative & Ordinance committee met Oct. 27 to review changes made to the personnel director job description, before recommending approval to the City Council at a special meeting which directly followed.
A nearly completed search for a full-time personnel director has been stalled by the City Council’s reluctance to approve the job description as written.
L&O Chair William Onyski said he had received a letter from Mayor Donald F. Humason Jr. which explained the changes that were made.
In the letter, Humason said that he had reviewed the video from the Special City Council meeting on Oct. 8, and had met with the acting personnel director regarding Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance. He said he agreed that there were many antiquated regulations, and changing them would be a job for the new personnel director.
Humason did have a staff member update the job description, adding that accommodations would be made to assist if unable to perform the duties listed, pursuant to state and federal laws, and would not be a consideration for qualification or disqualification for the position.
As for the other request to require mandatory municipal or department head experience, Humason said that would be unnecessarily limiting, that the current job description would attract candidates with enough necessary experience, and he respectfully requested its approval.
After reading Humason’s letter at the City Council meeting, Onyski submitted the job description for approval.
“I still want to see some changes there. I know there are not going to be enough votes to do it. I’m not worried about limiting candidates if we get the right person,” said At-large Councilor Dave Flaherty, adding that he believes the position should pay more.
“I think we’re making a big mistake. We’ve had a really hard time finding the right person. Lowering our standards is not the solution,” Flaherty said.
“I appreciate the effort in cleaning up the last page, but we have missed the point,” said At-large Councilor Kristen Mello, noting that there are a lot of requirements listed that are no longer needed.
“It feels like this job description is being held in a particular place for a reason not revealed to me. For that, I am a no,” Mello said.
“I was a no vote before because of the ableist language. I realize that it hasn’t exactly been fixed, but a bandaid has been applied,” said Ward 4 councilor Bridget Matthews-Kane. “I’m also voting for this because of the mayor’s letter, which says he agrees the language is antiquated, and a task for the personnel director.” Matthews-Kane said she would like to see the review address the gender language as well.
The job description then passed on a vote of 10 to 2, with Flaherty and Mello voting no.