Pittsfield O&R OKs HR Reclassification, Three New City Positions
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Monday's Ordinances and Rules Subcommittee meeting saw a heated conversation resulting in Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Maffuccio and Mayor Linda Tyer raising their voices followed by power outages of many members due to a sudden snowstorm.
The topic sparking controversy was the reclassification of Human Resource Director Michael Taylor's position and a salary increase of roughly $7,500. It passed 4-1 with Maffuccio voting in opposition.
Maffuccio asked Taylor, an eight-year employee, if he was considering leaving his position because of the pay after hypothetical discussions transpired that outlined his value to the city and what a great loss he would be. Tyer found the question out of line.
"That's a bit of an awkward question," Taylor said to Maffuccio before Tyer interjected.
"If I may, Councilor Maffuccio I can't allow this line of questioning to take place," Tyer said before Maffuccio began to yell "point of order."
Taylor's salary adjustment will be implemented on July 1 so the city can budget accordingly. Currently, his position is an M7 classification with a salary ranging from $68,000 annually to around $89,000, Taylor confirmed that he is compensated around $75,000 annually.
The human resource director position was reclassified to an M9 classification, adjusting the salary range from about $83,000 to $108,000 at the maximum end of the compensation spectrum. This was essential to make Taylor's pay match his responsibilities, said Tyer.
"The director of human resources is a vital, critical position within the senior leadership team and it has been misclassified in relation to those responsibilities for far too long," the mayor said.
She highlighted some of the essential responsibilities Taylor holds including working with herself and the labor attorney when it comes to collective bargaining agreements, serving as a Civil Service agent, and updating and drafting personnel policies that accurately affect laws and regulations.
With the onset of COVID-19, Taylor has also taken on the responsibility of ensuring compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards and co-leading the Safety and Security Committee to ensure employees have a safe and secure work environment.
Maffuccio made it clear that he was admirable of Taylor's work and believes him to be a valuable asset, but cannot support a budget increase for the Department of Human Resources within the city's current $170 million budget during a pandemic.
"We can look across the board throughout the whole city of Pittsfield and see that a lot of our staff are underpaid," he said. "There's not just one individual who is important to an organization, you all collectively make a team, you all collectively should be fairly treated."
Maffuccio said Taylor's position is a managerial position and not a union position, meaning he is not in a bargaining unit.
Persip said he could appreciate where Maffuccio is coming from but that similar jobs in comparable communities pay "a lot more."
"I think it's important that we keep and attract the best people for these positions," he said. "If our current director left, we would be bumping this up and training somebody to even walk in the door, I think we have to remember that. I don't see an HR person that's qualified coming in at a position less than what we're offering."
The subcommittee also separately approved three new city jobs to meet unaddressed needs: A grant manager, chief assessor, and an information technology position. Members voted unanimously on all but the IT position to which Maffuccio voted in opposition.
IT Support Specialist Director Michael Steben explained two primary drivers for the request to create the IT position: the growth of the network and cybersecurity. Steben said IT departments respond to business needs and support businesses while making sure that systems aren't breached.
"As it is, you have all dealt with my team in one way, shape, or form," he said to the subcommittee.
Reportedly, 2020 saw an unprecedented amount of attacks against municipal networks and Pittsfield's network had numerous breaches attempted, especially around the election. A single loss expectancy from a breach would be north of 1 million dollars, Steben claimed, given the city's size.
"Pretty much everything that we've done in the past year during this pandemic has shifted towards your department," Ward 5 Councilor Kavey said to Steben. "We're on Zoom right now because of your department and I don't see technology subsiding at any point in the future I think that we're going to continue to demand more of your department."
Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn spoke on the importance of a grant manager, claiming that by the time he took over the chief's office in 2007 the grant administration process had essentially become a full-time contracted job.
The position will pay between $45,000 and $60,000.
Board of Assessors Chairwoman Paula King said the chief assessor position in the Assessor's Office is being created so that one of the full-time assessor's positions can be eliminated and the staff will be reduced to four positions.
"The structure of the Assessor's Office is essentially changing," King explained.
The chief assessor's job is to keep everything functioning, being the liaison and signing all contracts with vendors. They will also be in charge of the office staff and have an assistant assessor.
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