By Reggie Connell, Managing Editor
Apopka City Commissioner Kyle Becker made a statement at the end of the Wednesday City Council meeting that people are starting to get used to.
“I’ll renew my call for an HR [Human Resource] Director – again. We need to get that published from a job posting perspective. We need to get it on the books now.”
It was the fifth Council meeting since October that Becker called for the post to be filled.
“And we’re working through that now commissioner,” responded City Administrator Edward Bass to Becker. I’m working through finance. I’m working through that – so we’ll get there.”
“It’s not fair on you [Bass], either, to have to deal with all of those HR-type issues,” said Becker. “There should be a distinction of roles and you don’t have to bear the burden of all that. You’d have the trust of the HR Director to take on that burden that we’ve funded through our budget.”
“We’re getting there,” Bass said. We’re close. I promise you.”
According to Bass, the Human Resource Department has two employees and a director when it is fully staffed. Its previous director Jill Ross left in the summer of 2020, and the position has remained vacant despite being a part of the FY2020-21 budget.
Bass wants to wait until the department is better organized before bringing on a new leader.
“I don’t want to bring someone in when it’s a mess,” Bass said. We had files that needed cleaning up and straightened out.”
Becker, however, is concerned with the liability the City could fall under.
“I think the city is at tremendous risk by not having a qualified Human Resources Director to oversee a workforce of nearly 500,” he said. “Our largest annual investment is in our people, the people that make this city run smoothly and safely, and they need to have a resource and escalation path outside their normal chain of command for human resource-related issues. A qualified individual would ensure the City is adhering to standard hiring practices, following labor laws, overseeing the annual performance review process, have clearly defined job roles and descriptions, and many other key areas to promote a healthy working environment. We, the Council, approved a budget that called for and funded the Human Resources Director position, and we are now five months into a fiscal year without even posting for the position. We cannot afford to wait until the department has been “cleaned up” before we hire a Director as staff has suggested, a good hire would clean up whatever current deficiencies exist in the HR department, and build an HR practice that serves to promote the healthy working environment our staff and city deserves.”
Bass estimates the City will advertise for the HR Director job in 30-45 days.