Mayor: Human resources director is needed

Since coming into office, Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas has noticed one set of duties absent from city hall — human resources. Rosas recently told the OBSERVER of the need for the creation of a full-time human resources director.

“The current system is inefficient. Since I came into office, I realized a human resources position was missing. The personnel director is good at what he does, benefits disbursements, but he is not a human resources director, which we desperately need. That’s a problem. We’re the only municipality I know of without an HR department,” he said.

The matter was proposed last month as a City Charter change in Resolution 96. The full-time position, which would make $60,000 plus benefits, was tabled for a public hearing at the most recent Common Council meeting.

At the public hearing, resident Nancy Renckens said, “I don’t see the need for it. It’s going to be one of the highest paid positions in the city. … I would like you to rethink it and get more information.”

Several others who spoke agreed with Renckens including Danny McGill, who added he believes any charter change should be brought to the public for a vote.

Previously it was suggested Chautauqua County take on these duties for the city in a shared service agreement. The city reached out to the county and found that to not be an option. Attorney Richard Morrisroe read an email from the county citing a lack of resources to take on the task.

Morrisroe also addressed the question of whether this change would require a public referendum. He explained it does not because positions are not being reduced.

Rosas noted the HR position was budgeted for in his 2018 budget proposal. The position would handle duties like training and developing policies and procedures.

The mayor also pointed out it will cost more to contract out the position, as well as the potential for this position to save the city money on lawsuits.

“It was good to see all the people come out and speak about this. I understand where they’re coming from because I felt that way before I became mayor. We need human resources. We don’t have that now. I have alerted the council since I came into office of the potential liability. I have seen routine incidents and complaints come in daily that are not handled the way they should be, in my opinion,” he said. “We have many big departments and we need an HR director who knows what they’re doing because the city if losing out monetarily.”

After the public’s comments on Resolution 96 and Resolution 97 to realign the personnel director’s duties to the current reality, the council left the measures on the table.

There will be an opportunity to take them off the table at Monday’s meeting at 5:30 p.m. in city hall.