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Council informally agrees to City Hall HR assistant

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Under a City Hall staff reshuffling, City Manager Sharon A. Addison will be getting the human resources manager she had proposed in December.

On Monday night, the Watertown City Council informally agreed to allow the city manager to proceed with the proposal. Council members discussed the issue briefly before giving her the go-ahead.

It ended up being left out of the $41 million budget during this year’s deliberations. But with some changes in City Hall personnel, Ms. Addison decided to give it a second try.

Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said Ms. Addison should have the personnel she needs.

“More or less, it’s an internal kind of thing,” he said.

As proposed, the confidential management employee would manage human resources services, policies and programs for the 320 city employees.

Ms. Addison has wanted the HR position to make sure employees are given mandatory annual training on such topics as safety and compliance and discrimination and sexual harassment. There also could be an orientation process for new employees.

The HR director also would be responsible for handling employee fringe benefits. Melanie Wight, who has been handling those tasks, has moved to the Water Department. Ms. Addison also wants to reallocate part-time positions in the Department of Public Works and in the comptroller’s office under the reshuffling.

The salary range for the HR position would be $45,000 to $60,000, she said. The Civil Service office will help with advertising the opening. Ms. Addison, who would make the appointment, hopes to get the person on board “as soon as possible,” she said.

In other business, the council:

n Set a public hearing for 7:30 p.m. Aug. 5 on the controversial law pertaining to roommates.

The issue first came before the council in January, after a Thompson Boulevard resident complained that her neighbor was living with his fiancee and two friends. The neighborhood is made up of single-family houses and is zoned as a Residential A district.

Earlier this year, dozens of residents showed up at City Council meetings to criticize city leaders for trying to regulate lifestyles and living arrangements when they eliminated a phrase in the ordinance banning nontransient roomers from living in the Residential A district.

Since then, Mayor Graham suggested putting the nontransient phrase back into the ordinance and reconsidering the section pertaining to the definition of family. Last week, the city’s Planning Board recommended changes that deal with the definition of what makes up a family — broadening it basically to any group of people who live and cook together in a household. It also would differentiate between boarding houses and family dwellings.

On Monday night, Councilman Joseph M. Butler said he would not support Mr. Graham’s proposal and would look at the Planning Board’s ideas. He also mentioned the possibility of amending that version.

n Approved a $99,700 contract with Stantec Consulting Services, Rochester, for preliminary design of the Watertown Municipal Arena upgrade at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds. The firm will determine the costs of the individual proposed amenities by January and then put together a final design after that.

The $3.6 million project could include a new lobby, ticket booth, press box and offices and bigger and better locker rooms and restrooms.

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