ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

County to consider hiring human resources manager

Heather Cunningham, Carlton County zoning and environmental services director, voiced strong support for adding a Human Resources (HR) position to county staffing during Tuesday's meeting of the Committee of the Whole. And though Cunningham was p...

Heather Cunningham, Carlton County zoning and environmental services director, voiced strong support for adding a Human Resources (HR) position to county staffing during Tuesday's meeting of the Committee of the Whole. And though Cunningham was part of a County Strategic Planning session that identified the HR position as an area of need way last spring, she admitted that it couldn't be more timely.

"At the time, I was not aware of the alleged theft at the Transfer Station," said Cunningham, referring to the pending criminal case involving long-term Transfer Station employee Joanne Wappes. "I am not sure if it is fair to say that the Transfer Station was the source of my memo of support for the HR office. I just see it as a real need for the county to function. The Transfer Station just affirmed my position."

Cunningham delivered her memo of support to commissioners following a presentation by County Coordinator Dennis Genereau regarding the possible addition of an HR manager. Genereau, who served as an assistant Carlton County attorney since 1998, replaced retiring County Personnel Director Mike Stafford on Oct. 10, 2011. At that time, his title was changed to county coordinator and he was tasked with supervising all appointed and elected department heads, dealing with personnel issues and overseeing contract negotiations. Now, Genereau said that's too big a task for a department of two in a county this size.

Genereau pointed out to members of the Committee the need for what he called the "modernization of county administration and human resources." He said for a staff the size of the Carlton County's -- 333 employees -- the current department is vastly undersized compared to other counties. He said the average human resources/county coordinator staffing for a county of our size is 4.27.

"The only other county [with a population of 25,000-42,000] with just two employees on the coordinator/HR staff is Cass County, and they only have 250 employees," said Genereau, adding that Lake County, with a population of fewer than 11,000, has four employees in that area.

ADVERTISEMENT

Genereau went on to outline some of the key human resources elements that are mandatory for effectively supervising employees, including labor relations, benefits, job classification, employee wellness, development and training, performance management, personnel records management, recruitment and workers compensation, to name just a few. He said the coordinator's position in itself adds several more responsibilities, such as building management, policies and procedures, and heading up the finance and building committees and the management team.

He reasoned that in order to do both jobs effectively and well, and in a manner that assures both fairness to the employees and accountability to the taxpayers, additional staffing is necessary simply to keep on top of all areas of responsibility.

Genereau laid out four options for the consideration of the Committee and the Board:

1) Add a human resources manager and special projects, media relations and data practices specialist;

2) Add a human resources manager and administrative assistant;

3) Add only a human resources manager; or

4) Do nothing.

He estimated the cost of the top three options would range from $120,000-$150,000.

ADVERTISEMENT

"I believe strongly that we need to have a strong, efficient local government," summed up Genereau. "Human Resources is responsible, to a large extent, in making certain our local government works well."

Commissioner Bob Olean thanked Genereau for his proposal, calling it "a step in the right direction."

Committee Chair Dick Brenner added, "In the past, we have tended to deal with [human resources] problems after they have already come up. We haven't been proactive."

Related Topics: CARLTON COUNTY
What To Read Next
The University of Minnesota has been researching the effects of dough fermentation and wheat variety in creating bread that is easier to digest.