Here’s the skinny on charter initiative

In recent weeks, there has been commentary articulated in various Internet sources and in the community with regard to the county’s charter initiative that will appear on the general election ballot pertaining to the creation of the Department of Human Resources. The commentary provided has been less than accurate and clarification is needed.

The prevailing comment is that the creation of the Department of Human Resources will create an increased cost for the county in terms of personnel and other expenditures.

This is absolutely untrue. The charter initiative seeking a creation of this department is to simply recognize and properly identify the current functionality of the Department of Personnel Services. Over the past two years, the county has identified positions in other county departments and agencies which were assigned personnel related responsibilities.

These positions have been merged within the Department of Personnel Services to bring these vital positions under one managerial umbrella for proper management and oversight, and execution of needed personnel support services. No new positions will be pursued in order to establish the Department of Human Services. These positions already exist.

The utilization of departments of human resources are commonplace throughout the state and country in both the private and public sectors. The most valuable resources in business and governmental operations are our employees. The creation of a well-organized and well-managed Department of Human Resources will provide the critical resources needed for employees in terms of training, information sharing, performance measurement and management, and a multitude of other areas.

From a management perspective, areas involving effective and timely recruitment of employees, providing reorganization and reclassification assistance and guidance to all county departments, and ensuring close adherence to our collective bargaining obligations to preserve the rights of all employees and maximize performance are all essential responsibilities inherent to the Department of Human Resources.

Contrary to statements that this initiative will result in higher costs, the creation of an effective and meaningful Department of Human Resources will result in a substantially higher degree of financial efficiency and organizational effectiveness. In fact, it is very possible that more focused human resources management and support will save the county money over time in the form of fewer employee-related claims and settlements.  This is the intended goal of all government operations — to ensure that we are responsible and accountable in exercising sound and intelligent financial management of the county.

There is no greater responsibility in the exercise of our public service than to ensure that our communications are governed by honesty and accuracy. I thank you for the opportunity to comment.

Ernest W. Barreira, M.S.,  Assistant Chief Procurement Officer/Budget Chief, Department of Finance

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