Some aldermen say not enough information available on civil-service rule changes

Myers confirms no minutes available for recent Civil Service Board meetings

By BURKE WASSON

While a 61-page proposal to amend Crestwood’s civil-service rules was sent last month to aldermen, some contend that they and residents were not provided with all the necessary information to consider it.

For that reason, City Administrator Frank Myers said last week that aldermen will study the proposed revisions to the civil-service rules and regulations in multiple public work sessions. He anticipates the first work session would take place near the end of January.

The Civil Service Board conducted a public hearing Dec. 28 to discuss the new proposals and attended the Jan. 9 Board of Aldermen meeting to answer questions.

But no minutes of the Civil Service Board’s past few meetings have been transcribed for the public, according to city staff.

Myers said that newly hired City Clerk Tina Flowers will start assembling those minutes when she begins work this week. Those minutes, Myers said, would have to be done before a work session can take place.

“They (Civil Service Board minutes) just didn’t get done,” Myers said. “You know, that’s really the responsibility of the city clerk to do those minutes. And with her (former City Clerk Kimberly Cottle) no longer here, I really don’t have a good answer for you.

“I don’t really think I can give you a good answer on why they weren’t done. But we’re working diligently now to get those minutes done. Because the person responsible is no longer here. And I don’t want to get into that … but that’s where we’re at. We’re working on getting them done. You know, in a municipality such as this when you have a lot of different organizations and a lot of minutes, you know, sometimes despite people’s best efforts, they don’t get done. And I think we’re now working to catch up on all that.”

Aldermen also expressed concern last week about public notification of the Dec. 28 public hearing, which Myers believes produced no citizen attendance.

“They went through the appropriate process,” Myers said. “But no one showed up.”

Assistant City Administrator Justina Tate said notice of the public hearing was posted on the bulletin board at the Government Center “like any public hearing would be posted.” But the hearing notice was not posted on the city’s Web site or published in the city’s newsletter. At press time, the Web site lacked any and all agendas and minutes of previous Civil Service Board meetings. Tate said city staff members are working to add agendas and minutes to a Civil Service Board section on the Web site.

The city’s Web site does, however, include the 61-page proposed final draft of the civil-service rules and regulations under the Board of Aldermen’s Jan. 9 agenda.

The Civil Service Board has been working since March 2006 to propose new rules and regulations based on new federal and state laws and city policy changes.

Because of these concerns about public access to meeting minutes and further questions on the proposed rules, Ward 1 Alderman Richard Bland said at last week’s board meeting that he believes a work session is required for the benefit of aldermen and the public.

Mayor Roy Robinson indicated at the Jan. 9 meeting that the administration was not asking aldermen to approve the new civil-service rules that night, but to ask any questions about the proposal to the Civil Service Board.

The Civil Service Board — Martha Duchild, Gretchen Huston and Catherine Barnes — expressed to aldermen last week that the new civil-service rules should be passed in a timely fashion because civil-service employees currently have no such document.

“I would like to say for myself as a member of the board that it seemed to me that it’s quite important that the employees have some current document,” Huston said. “Right now, they have no current document that tells them what their rights and responsibilities are. And you cannot say that it should go on indefinitely that way. And we have been working on it now for almost a year, and it’s been over 10 years since they’ve had a really current document. Apparently, they have old ones available to look at. But they don’t include a lot of the laws that are applicable now. We can’t just put it off.”

“And also, the Board (of Aldermen) has had this document for a month,” Duchild said. “I believe it was sent out the 8th of December. So it’s been a month … The Civil Service Board meets four times a year, so there are going to be updates regardless. So I think that if we can get the bulk of it and give the employees something, it’s not as if it can’t be amended in the next quarter.”

Myers echoed those sentiments Friday and said the proposed changes to the civil-service rules and regulations are necessary so that the city’s rules and regulations can be more consistent with federal and state laws passed in the last 10 years.

At the same time, Myers said a work session would be beneficial so that aldermen can fully understand the proposed changes that conform with new city policies.

Ward 2 Alderman Chris Pickel said at the Jan. 9 meeting that while he respects the need for employees to follow a current document, he does not believe the process leading up to that document’s approval has been fully realized.

“I certainly appreciate the fact that employees need something and I would like to get this wrapped up in a timely fashion,” Pickel said. “I just want to do it the right way.”

“Sure,” Robinson replied. “And I agree with you. That’s the reason I made the statement that we’re not going to pass this thing tonight. We’re going to take as much time as the board needs where you all feel comfortable with what we’re doing. This is an extremely important document for all our employees in this city. This is their Bible. That’s what protects their jobs. That’s what gives the instructions to the supervisors and the people, department heads and whatever. So we want to make sure it’s right before we go. We’re doing nothing in this manner in a rush. And I agree with you, Alderman Pickel, in that I’d like to fully understand what we’re doing. There’s items in that that I think still ought to be modified, too.”

Duchild told aldermen last week that another reason why the Civil Service Board would like the process done in a timely fashion is because not all of its members can be present for the next Board of Aldermen meeting on Tuesday.

“Part of the reason is that not all of the Civil Service Board members are going to be present,” Duchild said. “We could not make the next Board (of Aldermen) meeting and weren’t sure after that. There was originally a work session that was scheduled tonight, but got canceled. And I understand that would have been a good time to do it. But unfortunately, we don’t have that. However, we do have this time right now. And I can’t assure the Board (of Aldermen) that the other Civil Service Board members are going to be available at the next meeting or the next meeting after that. If you wondered about why the push, then that’s what we’re here for. We have the time now to discuss it.”

Bland said to Duchild that for the sake of further review from aldermen and the public, he would favor a future work session — which is now likely to occur before the end of the month.

“I’m not inclined this evening to push this through just for the sake of pushing it through,” Bland said. “I think, by and large, I think it’s a pretty commendable document. There are a few things I’ve picked out that I do have some concerns about.

“However, I don’t think that tonight is the time or the place to start pulling through page by page and start questioning intent and definitions and things like that.”