Review of city's personnel regulations is coming
Council asks for independent third-party
An independent third-party review of the city's human resources regulations is coming to city hall after a council discussion a week ago Monday.
The move came at the behest of council members Dennis Fleming and Ruth Knight, who asked that council have a discussion on the topic after a group of former city employees approached council late last month with allegations of ethics violations against the city's director of parks and recreation.
Supporting documents in the council's packet for the review authored by John Hozey, city manager, said the personnel regulations were last revised in 2008.
"It is proposed that this consultant would review the Regulations to ensure that the disciplinary and grievance procedures are complete, clear, and compliant with all current laws and court cases," Hozey's statement said. "It is my understanding that administration is preparing to launch the next round of revisions next year. The process of revision normally involves close coordination with the Employee Personnel Regulations Committee."
Hozey did agree a third-party review had merit.
"It is agreed by Administration that having an independent third party HR consultant conduct a thoroughness and compliance review now, prior to the larger revision beginning next year, could be very helpful and only make the next revision that much better," he said in the agenda statement. "Therefore, assuming a funding source is identified, administration would recommend this type of third party review."
Fleming said he had concerns about the city's current regulations and how they are enforced.
"We do adopt these policies and council members," Fleming said after saying he believed it was important that the policies and regulation be consistent, legal and enforced. He and Knight also expressed concerns regarding how personnel issues and complaints are documented.
Sheri Pierce, the city clerk, said in an interview Friday that the city's legal council had reviewed the complaints and advised council that the allegations did not qualify as ethical violations that warrant council action as spelled out in the city's code. She also said the matter was under investigation by John Hozey, the city's manager.
Outgoing council member Donna Schantz asked before the end of the meeting that the council make a statement in the near future regarding the council's actions after the allegations were made.
At the September meeting, Pam Lunt, the now-retired manager of the civic center, read a prepared statement to council, alleging a hostile work environment and ethical violations.
Lunt said previous complaints to city administration had not been addressed to their satisfaction.
"That's why we're here tonight to ask you, our city council, to investigate our concerns. We also respectfully request that during this process, in light of the overwhelming evidence we have submitted, that at the very least you place the director and the recreation supervisor on investigative administrative leave, effective immediately," she said. "The current employees, and the people of our community, deserve the right to be protected from the current culture of intimidation and the very real fear of retaliation."
The group, along with other former employees, had personally hand-delivered a large paper packet to individual council members in the days before the September meeting that contained 56 pages of documentation.
During a break at the September council meeting, Darryl Verfaillie, the director in question, told the Valdez Star he had no comment to make except to stress that he has always followed the city's personnel rules and regulations.
The specific nature of the allegations against Verfaillie, or the recreation supervisor, were not made public by the council, city administration or the group.
For documentation outlining the group’s complaint click the link: http://www.valdezstar.net/cms_data/dfault/photos/stories/id/0/6/706/2611052.pdf#page=1