Council to hold hearing on creation of new human resource job at N.S. Town Hall

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NORTH SMITHFIELD – A new part time employee will soon provide oversight of recruitment and employment practices at North Smithfield Town Hall, guiding the town’s employee and labor relations.

But first, councilors must follow the process to create the position, with a public hearing on the change scheduled for Monday, May 6.

The human resource manager role was funded at a cost of $35,000 in the budget passed by the board last June. In the months since, Council President Kimberly Alves has worked to lay out the job description, and language had been drafted to amend the Town Charter to add the new position. Both documents were presented for a first reading by the council at their meeting on Monday, April 15.

According to the description, the individual who ultimately takes the role will report to the finance director and, generally, the town administrator, providing oversight of personnel records, as well as a place for employees to bring policy questions, or complaints on issues such as harassment or discrimination.

Councilor John Beauregard noted that initially, he was not in favor of creating the new position. In the past, the town’s human resource duties have been performed by Benefits and Payroll Coordinator Karen Bernadino.

“I’ve come around,” he said.

Beauregard questioned, however, if a firm or consultant might be more effective in the role than a part time staff member.

“A part time human resource manager could cause more problems than it solves,” said Beauregard. “If we go to a firm, we’ll have someone 24 hours a day seven days a week.”

But Alves said she feels it will be better to have someone who is actually in Town Hall getting to know the people who work there.

“People become familiar with this person and feel comfortable with this person,” she said. When calling firm, by comparison, “you don’t know who’s on the other end.”

“I think it’s important for the person to have a connection with the people that are here day to day,” Alves added. “It’s just that personal touch piece that I think we’re missing.”

The council president added that the council can review how well the system is working in future years.

“It’s just a start to get us in the right direction,” Alves said.

A second reading and public hearing of the charter change will be held at the meeting on Monday, May 6 starting at 6:45 p.m. at Town Hall at 83 Green St.

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