Marlborough City Council revives Human Services, debates salary limits

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By Art Simas Community Reporter

Marlborough – After nearly 10 months of discussion about a possible reorganization of the Human Services Department, as well as stops and starts of partial funding, the City Council voted, 10-1, Feb. 28 to keep the department functioning through June 30.

A total of $21,111 from the city's “undesignated account” will pay the director's salary through the end of this fiscal year.

Ward 2 Councilor Paul Ferro voted against the motion saying that he saw no need for such a department because residents could get similar services for free through the United Way or other nonprofit organizations.

The department salary budget ran out of money in late February.

On Dec. 6, 2010, the City Council voted to fund the department for two months at $10,555.

At the time, Mayor Nancy E. Stevens had asked the council to appropriate $39,850.24, which represented six months” funding to June 30.

On July 1, the reorganization is scheduled to take place with the consolidation of Human Services, the Council on Aging and the veterans” agent.

Although City Council President Arthur G. Vigeant said the City Council was not voting to approve the reorganization, there was plenty of discussion on who would be paid how much.

Because the positions of executive director of Human Services, Human Services manager, veterans” agent and Council on Aging program manager would be classifi ed under a new Department of Human Services, talks first focused on whether salary ordinances should be approved now.

For example, Ferro wanted the veterans” agent and the Human Services manager salaries to be the same, with a range of $41,135 to $46,271.

But Ferro's motion was defeated by an 8-3 vote, which set the salary parameters for the human resource manager at $44,803 to $50,397.

Councilor At-Large Michael Ossing and Ward 7 Councilor Donald R. Landers joined Ferro in this vote. The other councilors voted against Ferro's amendment.

Two other votes for salary ordinances for the executive director of Human Services ($59,120 to $66,500) and for the part-time Council on Aging program manager (not to exceed a maximum of $19,000 per year) broke along similar voting lines.

The veterans” agent salary ordinance range would remain the same.

Ossing said it was not necessary to revise any salary ordinance, which serves as a general guide for salary grades.

Vigeant said Marlborough has a lot of work to do with its salary ordinances to bring them up to date. He added the city has often paid employees more than their stated current ordinance.

Ward 1 Councilor Joseph F. Delano Jr. urged the City Council to move forward with the reorganization plan because it would provide more and better services for the city, especially seniors with the addition of a part-time Council on Aging program manager, at a better price.

Ward 5 Councilor Robert M. Seymour, who chaired the Human Services Task Force that included city councilors and local and regional professionals from the human resource and personnel communities, said the process should be replicated for future personnel considerations.

“For me, this is a template that we should use from now on – calling on outside experts who are involved,” he said, “because the whole goal was to create better efficiency.”

In addition to salary ordinances, the city personnel codes for the positions (excepting the veterans” agent) will have to be changed to reflect new responsibilities.

According to Vigeant, new codes must be approved before an official reorganization can be approved.