PROVIDENCE – The newly formed Administrative Review Committee presented its report of its recently conducted personnel study to the City Council Tuesday night. The <a href=”http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/news/local/article_1e9c12a0-af9c-11e5-8e3c-97dea3cb1328.html” target=”_blank”>committee was formed in late December 2015</a> after members of the Council expressed disappointment with an original personnel study carried out by Platinum HR CEO Todd Anderson, who was hired to investigate and report possible “major problems” among city employees.
Concerns about these possible problems were raised in September after several resignations among city staff took place in a short amount of time. The resignations included Public Works Director Randy Eck. Eck and his wife, Kristina Eck, both wrote statements in December claiming that several city personnel had been participating in inappropriate sexual relations in city offices and city vehicles. In his letter, Randy Eck admitted to being involved in some of the inappropriate relationships with other city employees. The statements also included complaints about nepotism within city staff.
The committee, which is made up of current Council member John Drew, and former Council members Ralph Call and John Russell, distributed the 15-page report during the meeting. The committee made no mention of any specific personnel incidents in its report, but said “recent events that have been the subject of newspaper articles and discussion throughout Cache Valley are not merely isolated incidents”, but are indications “of a broader more fundamental problem.”
While speaking for the committee, Drew challenged the Council to “take action to earn the public’s trust.”
“We keep hearing over and over and over again the citizens of Providence expect to see change,” he said. “They expect to see action. This is a message to the Council members whose elected officials have an obligation to address the problems.”
In its report, the committee critiqued Anderson’s original personnel report. Criticism was given to the personnel Anderson chose to interview and the people he left out. In several instances, the committee felt Anderson wasn’t thorough enough in his evaluation of city staff. The committee took issue with Anderson’s statement that Mayor Don Calderwood “seems open to the opinions of others.”
“To many citizens, it is clear that there has been a dysfunctional relationship between the council and the mayor,” the committee’s report said.
Specific attention was given to Anderson’s analysis of the city’s government structure and his comparison of Providence’s structure to other cities of similar size. The committee noted the cities in Anderson’s reports are run differently than Providence. Each of the listed cities has a city manager that reports to the council, instead of a “mayor-run city” like Providence.
“Clearly, Providence City does not operate with the same organizational structure as Todd Anderson furnished,” the committee wrote. “In these cities, the mayor does not run the city.”
The committee added that Anderson should have recommended the City Council investigate switching to a city manager-type organization instead of one it currently has, where the mayor runs the day-to-day operations.
Attorney Steve Garside, the committee’s legal counsel, elaborated what the committee was suggesting. He said having a city manager that takes care of all the civic duties could add consistency to its leadership instead of being ran by a mayor that may not have the proper background or the necessary time to fulfill his or her responsibilities.
“It was based on that that they discussed and felt like the city ought to investigate maybe looking at that form of government,” he said. “It’s not a mandate, it’s a recommendation based on what it is that they looked at.”
Councilman Kirk Allen said he felt parts of the committee’s report were not factual, but subjective. He said it seemed like a campaign to hire a city manager and do away with the present form of government. He didn’t agree with using Richfield – a city mentioned in the report – as an example or justification for hiring a city manager.
“You bring up the city of Richfield,” he told the committee. “Did you bring up that the city of Richfield has its own police department, its own fire department, its own ambulance supported by a hospital? It supports a much bigger graveyard than ours, and on and on. They ought to have a city manager. There’s nobody else around them to help that they can coordinate with to bring services to them.”
Russell said it is important to note that everything the committee presented to the Council are merely suggestions, but it gives the city an “opportunity to look at how things are functioning, and how they can be better.”
“Just because we don’t have a police department and a fire department, it doesn’t mean we can’t reevaluate” he said.
After the meeting, the Council went into an executive session.