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City manager requests to hire firm for HR help

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City Manager Sharon A. Addison is requesting permission to hire a Glenville firm to help handle the city’s day-to-day human resources and labor relations issues.

Tonight, the Watertown City Council is expected to be asked to pay Public Sector HR Consultants LLC $1,250 a month, or no more than $8,750, while her office goes through a reshuffling. The proposed agreement would run through the end of the fiscal year.

In a memo last week to council members, Ms. Addison wrote that the city has “encountered numerous complicated personnel matters” for which she relied on Public Sector for help.

In October, the council hired Public Sector to develop an employee handbook and supporting policies for the city. The firm is being paid $6,500 for that work.

Under the reshuffling, the city plans to create an administrative specialist position to handle a variety of HR matters. Elizabeth U. Morris, the Civil Service Commission executive secretary, also has been filling in while Ms. Addison finds a confidential assistant to the city manager.

Her former assistant, Elliott B. Nelson, left the job for a similar position in Illinois earlier this fall.

In her memo, Ms. Addison wrote that Public Sector, an expert in HR issues, has saved “hundreds of hours of research and account for significant cost savings.” She wrote that she no longer can rely on calling the state Department of Civil Service and the city attorney’s office for help. She has been unable to reach the state workers because of budget cuts.

Public Sector would help — with unlimited consultation by phone and email — on such issues as employee discipline and separation, city personnel policies, collective bargaining agreements and ensuring the mandatory compliance with federal and state regulations, including Civil Service law, she wrote.

When contacted Friday night, council members said they did not know what issues she was referring to, while Ms. Addison could not be reached for comment.

In other action, the council will be asked:

n To issue a special use permit for a Utica businessman to turn Showtime roller skating into storage units at Northland Plaza, 144 Eastern Blvd.

n To waive the connection fee for water and sewer for a new Habitat for Humanity house at 123 E. Lynde St.

n To sell two small parcels to Neighbors of Watertown Inc. for $1 that will help the housing restoration organization to redevelop Empsall Plaza on Court Street. Neighbors wants to redevelop the vacant site of the Velocity fun center. It owns Brighton Apartments, which is located on the top floors of the building.

The council will meet at 7 p.m. today in the third-floor council chambers at City Hall, 245 Washington St.

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