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Morse seeks $65K to increase personnel efficiency

Date: 1/18/2013

By Katelyn Gendron

HOLYOKE — The city must spend money to save money — long-term — and streamline resources, at least as far as personnel is concerned, according to Mayor Alex Morse.

Morse has requested the City Council appropriate of $65,000 from free cash to hire the Edward Collins Jr. Center for Public Management at the University of Massachusetts Boston to draft a job classification study, new performance evaluation plan and a human resources compliance audit.

"I became concerned about inadequate job descriptions and performance evaluations at several points last year, when questions arose about employee accountability for certain projects," Morse told Reminder Publications. "The job descriptions that we have are many years old and they are inaccurate. Previous administrations planned for performance evaluations but the plans were not implemented."

When asked if the study's objective was to find ways to cut personnel costs, he replied that it was "to increase efficiency and provide better personnel services to our employees."

"We may be able to save money, too, but that is secondary, Morse added. "I want the city's personnel administration to use the best practices that are in place in other municipalities in 2013. Local governments across the state are trying to use technology to deliver better services at the same cost or the same services at a lower cost. As mayor, my main goal is to provide better personnel services to our employees and our department managers."

However, in a press release drafted by his office announcing the appropriation for the Collins Center, the mayor is quoted as "working to consolidate Human Resources throughout the city. Currently, the city, the School Department, and Holyoke Gas & Electric have separate Human Resource departments. The mayor wants to consolidate to streamline operations and increase department efficiency, while potentially realizing a cost savings."

When asked why the need to make sure municipal positions are valued accurately, Morse replied, "Some city employees are underpaid. Some employees are paid about right. There are probably also some employees who are more than the job market would indicate. The problem is that we do not know how many employees are in each of those three categories. I do not want to deal with this important issue on a case-by-case basis. I want a comprehensive study because I want to know how all of our compensation practices compare to the market, so that we can make sounds decisions based upon that objective information."

Morse believes the Collins Center's study is necessary because the city's small Personnel Department would be most likely unable to undertake such a project within a short deadline.

The mayor said he hoped to move on the project quickly and to gain feedback from members of the City Council in the near future.