NISKAYUNA — The Town Board has hired a Glenville human resources consulting firm to provide additional services to the town.
The town has hired Public Sector HR Consultants for $1,150 per month. The company will provide resources to the town such as:
- Unlimited telephone and email consultations to town employees on items related to human resources management or labor relations
- Recommend improvements to communications to decrease exposure to discrimination or wrongful termination claims
- Update the employee handbook
While the vote to hire the firm ended up being unanimous, board member Jason Moskowitz had made a motion to table the resolution to have more discussion.
“I understand that the Town’s procurement policy was adhered to in obtaining quotes for HR services, but of course this comes at a cost to the taxpayers – a cost that has not been budgeted for, and therefore will inevitably affect our fund balance,” he said. “I agree that we need some form of HR support, and we need to provide sufficient resources for our employees to utilize, but I feel that there should be some more discussion before we commit, and we must keep our fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers in mind when making this decision. In the meantime, we have competent staff in the Comptroller’s Office, and an extremely knowledgeable Town Attorney to advise us on many of the same issues that we’re contracting with this consulting firm for.”
That motion failed 4-1, with Moskowitz being the lone person seeking to hold off the vote.
However, he said to show support for town employees he would vote to approve the contract if it wasn’t tabled. He did ask that the town track how much the firm was actually used by employees.
Town Supervisor Jamie Puccioni said the hiring the firm was budgeted for, explaining it was under a different budget line than what Moskowitz had looked at.
Who oversees human resource management in the town has been an issue since the town’s lengthy investigation into now-former comptroller Paul Sebesta. That report alleged several discriminatory actions by Sebesta. It also recommended the town review how it handled human resources responsibilities in the town.
“The Town Board should give consideration to the manner in which the Town’s Human Resources responsibilities are currently met, and determine whether the Comptroller is in the best position to implement and manage such responsibilities, given the Comptroller’s principal fiscal responsibility to the Town,” the report stated.
Prior to the meeting, Puccioni said it is common practice for a human resources department to be housed in the comptroller’s office because of the “interplay between pay and benefits administration as well as collective bargaining and civil service requirements.”
The firm, however, will be able to provide additional resources, Puccioni said during the meeting.
“This firm will guide our department heads through situations requiring corrective action and progressive discipline,” she said. “These complementary policies are key to intervening early in situations that have the potential for workplace conflict including harassment and discrimination. Their expertise, to add to what we already have, is an important step to improving communication and preventing small problems from growing into larger problems, which eventually will cost us more money.”
Puccioni said that this firm works with many other municipalities, including the town of Bethlehem, city of Saratoga Springs and both Albany and Schenectady counties.
Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at 518-478-3320 or by email at [email protected]