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Published: Wednesday, 7/25/2012

Hiring of 3 sought for Toledo human resources office

BY CLAUDIA BOYD-BARRETT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

After years of city budget cuts and staffing losses, Toledo's new human resources director, Ellen Grachek, urged City Council Tuesday to approve hiring three people to help with employee relations, selection, and training.

Hiring freezes and attrition have depleted the department's human capital, and now, as the city ramps up recruitment for its safety forces, that shortage has become acute, Ms. Gracheck said.

"The human resources department is lacking in humans," Ms. Gracheck told council while making her case during an agenda review meeting. "We do not have the people, positions, to do what we need to do right now."

The Bell administration has three major hiring-related events scheduled for later this year, and making sure those run smoothly will take some extra staff, Ms. Grachek said.

In the fall, the city plans to recruit a new police class of 40, followed by a firefighter class of 30 trainees in November.

Then, in December, the city is to administer a mandatory police exam to an estimated 3,000 people to create a list of future candidates for the city's police force.

Ms. Grachek asked for $287,919 in general-fund money for the rest of 2012. About $100,000 would pay for the new staff members: three administration analysts to oversee employee selection, evaluation, relations, benefits, and training.

About $89,000 would pay for the costs associated with administering the exam -- including printing, renting the SeaGate Convention Centre, and contracting an evaluator -- and the rest is for computer upgrades and office improvements.

Council appeared to support her plea.

"Human resources has, for too long, been denied adequate resources," Councilman D. Michael Collins said. "I totally support Director Gracheck."

Also Tuesday, council considered approval of a new three-year contract with the Lucas County dog warden. Deputy Mayor Steve Herwat estimated the contract would cost between $100,000 and $140,000 a year, depending on overtime costs.

Councilman Collins has routinely criticized the city's contracting arrangement with the warden's office, citing it as impractical and expensive. Overtime costs kick in after 4 p.m. each weekday and on weekends, the precise times when the warden's services are most needed, he said.

Mr. Collins called on the city to train its own police officers in animal control, and asked that the new contract be renewed for one year only.

But Mr. Herwat said assigning the warden's duties to city police officers would take them away from fighting crime.

"Do we want our police officers taking dogs to the dog pound, or do we want them out there patrolling neighborhoods and fighting crime and dealing with gangs?" the deputy mayor said. "We have far better things for our police officers to do [than handle dogs]."

Council also discussed a proposed $723,000 in vehicle purchases for the city's Hoffman Road landfill, including two bulldozers, a compactor, pickup trucks, snow plows and a sport utility vehicle.

Councilman Steven Steel questioned the need to replace the vehicles, some of which have low mileage.

Public service department director Ed Moore said driving at the landfill takes its toll on city equipment. He said the purchases are necessary because vehicles have not been replaced in many years.

He said he is trying to implement a scheduled vehicle replacement program, which he said would cut the city's maintenance expenses in the long run.

Contact Claudia Boyd-Barrett at cbarrett@theblade.com or 419-724-6272.



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